Merry Christmas! Hopefully, those two words still bring you a childlike sense of wonder and joy. Remember when the holidays were fun? School was out, you were anticipating what Santa might bring (and in my case, contemplating if you’d been truly good or bad), the sledding hill was packed and all the holiday burden was on the adults. It was truly the best time of the year.
Once you’re older, however, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We have an increased sense of responsibility, especially if there are relatives visiting or we’re hosting a dinner. This often leads to not-so-healthy stress management habits like overeating and overdrinking as we jump from one holiday party to the next. Doing this season after season can lead to the holiday blues, where we begin to feel anxious, angry and even depressed during Christmastime. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Below are some tips to help get you through this and future holiday seasons. Follow these, and you’ll soon look like those happy-go-lucky people in Christmas commercials.
Do Less, Enjoy More–
See if you can turn down a couple of events. We’re not advocating sitting home alone all December, but when you have your office Christmas party, your friend’s ugly sweater party, recitals for the kids and are still having crazy Uncle Johnny over for Christmas dinner all in the same week it’s a bit much. Don’t be afraid to turn down something you’re not interested in or that’s not important. The main idea here is not to go overboard to please everybody.
You don’t need to seek perfection here. In fact, the best practice is to simply ask people what they want before you buy anything (especially other adults). This way, you’re not giving anything they don’t want and you don’t have to waste time scouring the far corners of the earth for something. Also, budget early, shop early and stick to it (we’ve got some budget gift ideas here). Set a date to have all shopping done, say December 10th, and you won’t have to worry anymore.
Try Something New –
Have you ever wanted a warm Christmas vacation? Tried cooking something other than ham or turkey or going out to eat? Invented your own family tradition? The more we can get away from the monotony of the season the better. A trip to California or making a meal from another culture (check out some recipes here) might be just the break you need. This is especially true if you’ve done the same thing year after year and are really stressed or dreading the holiday season.
So you’re definitely stuck at home this year, you have relatives storming in and everyone expects you to be an excellent host. No matter the situation, we can always find simple ways to relieve stress. Taking a little chunk out of the day for ourselves is important anytime, let alone around Christmas. Volunteering and exercising (even if it’s just a 30-minute walk in some much-needed sunshine) can offer big benefits in a short amount of time. If you’re religious, finding the spiritual significance of the holidays and going to your place of worship can help feelings of isolation and loneliness. As difficult as these things may seem when you’re stressed, they will quickly brighten your overall mood and allow you to actually enjoy the season as it’s meant to be enjoyed.
If you can abstain from perfectionism, budget and shop early, stave off monotony and find ways to exercise and get some sunshine, you can bring back the Christmas joy you had as a child. Feel free to add any comments or experiences you might have with holiday stress, and Merry Christmas!