Tag Archives: holidays

March 2010 – Really Useful Websites

Ok, I have to admit some of these are strictly for fun and amusement…but that is certainly useful as well.  You can’t be serious all of the time…

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve included some history, some sources for coloring sheets, and other related tidbits:

  • http://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day History.com does a wonderful job with the history of St. Patrick’s day (go figure!).  They also include links to related articles on traditions, facts, and recipes as well.
  • http://www.theholidayspot.com/patrick/historyofpatrick.htm The Holiday Spot is another good source of “facts”, tidbits,  recipes, songs, games, wallpapers, and more.  They even have coloring pages for kids …and ringtones.  (I can’t say that it ever occurred to me before this that I might WANT a St. Patrick’s Day ringtone!)
  • How could you possibly look for St. Patrick’s Day information and bypass http://www.st-patricks-day.com/ ?  At any rate, they include a countdown, which might be useful a little farther out from the holiday…as well as information on Irish pubs worldwide, shopping, Irish dancing, Runs and Walks, and parades and events, among many other selections.

Another seasonal topic – colds, flus, and allergies…unfortunately all three seem to be all too common at this time of year.  Sources of good tips on how to prevent/avoid/lessen the effects of that I have found include the following (keeping in mind I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV…:-D):

And now that we’re moving away from snowy days…we are moving straight to rainy days…sigh.  As the mother of a 2-1/2-year-old and a 4-1/2-year-old, I can testify that children with stretch your creative abilities.  So, I decided to seek out some ideas for rainy days.  Some are for the kids, some are for us bigger kids:


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Putting the Joy Back in Holidays

I admit that my focus here is on Christmas because it has become far too commercial, but really, we’ve gotten away from the meaning of many holidays.  At any rate, here are a few suggestions on ways to put joy back into your holidays.

  1. Simplify. Enjoy being with family, watching children celebrate, good food – remember the GOOD things about the holidays.  Don’t get caught up in commercialism, overindulgence, trying to go to every party or event.  Pick a few nice events that you really want to attend and simply spend time enjoying family and friends otherwise.
  2. Don’t overspend – or overindulge. Overindulgence in food or alcohol (or both) will leave you feeling out of sorts, uncomfortable, and generally unhappy.  Enjoy the treats of the holiday – but do it in moderation.  As for spending, you can avoid that type of hangover as well, by not overspending either.  Buy gifts – or better yet, make them – that mean something between you and the recipient.  Spend time really thinking of something they would enjoy.
  3. Eat what you enjoy – but enjoy what you eat! It is so easy to overdo it with food.  Keep in mind at each meal that it isn’t the last chance for you to eat anything on the table; you can always get more at the next meal.  Try to keep your portions down to reasonable sizes; if you are going to have dessert, for example, have a small piece of pie rather than a larger one.  Eat one cookie, rather than four.  Eat only what you really enjoy – once you are getting full, you lose the true enjoyment of what you are eating.
  4. Say NO. It really is possible to tell a friend or family member, “I’m sorry but I can’t make it that night.  Why don’t we try to get together when things quiet down a little?”  Just be firm and polite.
  5. Stop…and look at the lights, listen to carols, visit Santa (or not). Take the children on a drive on weekends to see the Christmas lights.  Listen to Christmas carols and sing along.  Visit Santa, if that is important to you as a family tradition – or skip it if it causes too much aggravation and stress.  Focus on what is important to you and your family and cut out the things that simply do not measure up.
  6. If it is a source of stress, don’t do it. There is enough going on during the holidays that it doesn’t make sense to do things that make you tense.  Obviously, there are some things that you simply cannot avoid, but do what you can.  Cut back on your commitments, focus on the ones that mean the most to you.
  7. Cut back on the cards – write meaningful letters to those closest to you. I’m not talking about the mass “family newsletter” that so many people do.  I’m talking about chatty family letters to those closest to you to let them know how much they mean to you and what’s going on with you.   Write to older relatives that you don’t get to see often and enclose pictures; they will LOVE it.
  8. Sit down to dinner as a family. Everyone may be busy during the holidays, with school plays, concerts, work parties, family parties, and the like.  Still, even if it is with fast food, make time to sit down with your family over dinner and talk about what is going on with everyone.  It CAN be done and it will help everyone stay calmer.
  9. Emphasize the proper things about holidays. Think about where your focus and that of your family is during the particular holiday.  In this case, I am thinking specifically about Christmas, which has become so commercialized.  Have you thought about the real meaning of Christmas?  Even if you aren’t Christian, surely it isn’t all about “give me, give me, give me” and how many presents are under the tree!  In the case of other holidays, it seems as if we’ve gotten away from the real purpose of many holidays: Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day leap to mind.  Have you thanked a veteran?  Have you visited Arlington National Cemetery or honored the people who fought to keep this country safe in other ways?  (Yes, I’m American and I write from that point of view.)
  10. Make time for your hobby. If you have a hobby that relaxes you, it is particularly important to try to make time for it when you are stressed.  Even if you can only work it in for 15 minutes a day or so, that will help.  Read a book, write, keep a journal, crochet, knit, … find something that relaxes you and find a few minutes each day.
  11. Be sure to get your sleep. At least one night a week during the holidays, make a point of going to bed early.  Try half an hour early the first night and see how much it helps.
  12. Make your meals – at least SOME of them – healthy. Holiday foods are fantastic, but frequently not healthy at all.  Try to make other meals more balanced and healthier.  Try to eat less fat, less sugar, and drink less caffeine and alcohol.  Work in a salad or two.  Make sure you get some fruit – preferably some that isn’t in pie, jelly, or dipped in chocolate.
  13. Take time for yourself each day, even if it is just 5-10 minutes. This can be spending time on a hobby, taking a walk around the block (or around your office building), time soaking in the tub, quiet time alone in your bedroom, or even quiet time in your car on the way to work.  Take a few minutes at lunch during the week to sit in the car and listen to your radio.  If you have an office at work, close your office door for five minutes at the beginning of the day to gather your thoughts for the day, or for five minutes at the end of the day in order to plan for the evening or for the next day.

If you have any other suggestions, please feel free to contact me or leave them in a comment!

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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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Stress Relief for the Holidays

I have been thinking about this a lot recently. I have got to find a way to make my holidays less stressful. There are so many sources of stress these days: commercialization of holidays, work (or lack thereof),

  1. Focus on what is important and let the little things slide.  I know this isn’t easy.  I’m still working on this myself, but I realized over Thanksgiving that it was much more important that I got to see my 90+ year old grandmother and that she got to see my young children than the fact that everyone in the family is harping on the job situation for my husband and how I should fix it.  I’ve been trying to focus on her joy rather than the negatives and the stress.
  2. Draw boundaries where necessary.  Sometimes people don’t realize that they are offending or bothering you.  You may need to let them know as gently as possible – or you may have to be blunt.
  3. Get away from the situation if you can.  Sometimes you simply need a break from the situation.  Step back for a little while.  Do something that relaxes you.  Come back to the situation when you are calmer and can deal with it rationally or calmly.
  4. Do something nice for yourself.  Soak in the tub.  Get a pedicure. Find a quiet spot and read your favorite book for 10-15 minutes.  Talk to someone else about the stress or ask for some assistance, depending on what is stressing you.  Get away from all of the activity for a little while; find some quiet time.  Get up 15 minutes before everyone else so that you can get a quiet, slower start to the day.  Go to bed 15 minutes early for some peace and quiet.  Try meditating for 15 minutes before bed.
  5. Cut back on holiday activities.  I know that if you travel somewhere for the holidays many people probably want to see you, but you can overextend yourself easily.  Try to arrange a get-together in one place of as many people as possible to avoid having to drive around through your entire visit.  And know your limits – simply say “No, I’m afraid I can’t make it over this time.  I’m sorry but we’ll have to visit next time.”

I really think that holidays should be less about stress and driving around and seeing absolutely everybody and more about really enjoying the time you have with the people you do get to see.  If you spend more time in the car than you do visiting with people, you are going to be stressed.

I realized this holiday that I really  have to look at what I’m doing wrong.  This was the most stressful holiday I’ve ever had.  I enjoyed very little of it and there has to be something I can do to avoid a repeat of it.  The things I listed above are some ideas I’ve had about my own experiences.  I also realized that I set myself up for some of my stress; I tried too hard to please everybody and neglected my own needs.  That has got to change for the next visit.  Take some time to look at what you didn’t like about the last holiday and think about what you can do to improve it.

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