Holiday Stress Relief

We’ve all found by now that holidays are stressful.  Yes, there is a lot of joy and a lot of celebrating, but along with that comes the stress of preparation, the stress of paying for large numbers of purchases, and so on.  So, is it possible to celebrate a holiday and relieve that stress?  Of course – it just takes a little thought and perhaps some planning.

Here are 15 ideas that I have tried over the years that work.  Use what appeals to, or makes sense for, you.  Not everything will work for everyone.

  1. Get away from it all – literally. Take a time out.  Take time each day to spend by yourself, in quiet.  It doesn’t even really matter how much time it is – even 15 minutes a day helps.  The quiet will help sooth nerves rattled by holiday traffic and the cacophany of noises that surround us now.
  2. Get sleep. I know that it is hard during busy holiday seasons to keep to a normal schedule, to get as much sleep as you would like.  One idea that helps relief stress and doesn’t steal too much time: go to bed an hour early once a week.  That’s it – once a week.
  3. Watch your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol intake. Of course, this is difficult during the holidays but if you moderate your intake you can enjoy all of these things without increasing the stress on your body.  It will also help make the sleep you get better quality sleep, too.  Ideas for this include drinking your caffeine early in the day and drinking fewer caffeinated drinks overall.  Try juice or water instead.  If you need to wake up, go outside for a few minutes of fresh air.  Eat treats – just not at EVERY meal.  Have two cookies instead of four!
  4. Don’t take it all so seriously! The holiday doesn’t have to be PERFECT – in fact, it won’t be so stop expecting that.  Laugh when you have a mishap – then let it go.  If things don’t work out quite the way you expect, smile and enjoy the situation anyway.
  5. Say no from time to time. Is it really necessary to go to your brother’s wife’s third cousin’s nephew’s party?  Probably not.  Do you really need to buy presents for all of your second cousins’ kids?  Probably not.  Decide what is really important and focus on that; let the other stuff go.  Don’t over-schedule yourself and your family!
  6. Laugh. Tell jokes, read funny books, watch a funny movie.  Take a laughter break in the midst of all the “hurry, hurry, hurry” of the holiday!
  7. Light – and lots of it. This is particularly true of winter: you need more light.  Get outside in the sun for 15 minutes a day if you can.  Grey, wintery weather can really get to you – really, grey weather in general.
  8. Take some time for your hobbies. Stop long enough to relax a little and do something creative each day.  Crochet, knit, work a cross word puzzle.  Read.  Spend some time pruning your plants.  Play with your animals, not that that’s a hobby – but it is relaxing and soothing.
  9. Take a break from the news. Too much “reality” can depress.  Besides “good news” doesn’t sell newspapers and get people’s attention on the network news – the depressing, bad, and sensationalistic news is what sells.
  10. Go see Christmas lights! Whether you go to a commercial display or simply explore neighborhoods around you, go out and take a look.  A lot of people really go all out in decorating for Christmas.  In fact, some go all out at each holiday!
  11. Make time for your family. Eat dinner together – without phone interruptions or TV.  Talk to each other.  Play games one night a week.  Develop some family traditions that are your own!
  12. Treat yourself. Get a massage.  Get a pedicure and a manicure.
  13. Reach out to others. Help those who are struggling to whatever degree it is possible.
  14. Develop a special, relaxing “holiday routine” for your family and stick to it. Play a game each evening.  Watch one person’s favorite movie in the evening – a different movie each night.  Drink hot coco or hot tea together and talk about the day, after you’ve changed into pajamas.  Read a family book together.  Read a family book outloud to your children.
  15. Reduce the pressure to buy, buy, buy. Simplify your Christmas/holiday/birthday present list.  Don’t try to buy EVERYTHING for your children.  Try to find significant gifts, things that will really mean something for the people on your list.
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