I have a good time and enjoy many aspects of the holiday season: Turkey Trot, Hallmark movies with Gretchen Wieners, getting together with family, singing Christmas carols and Christmas Eve mass, to name a few.
However, the stress that comes along with this time of year gets to me and sometimes clouds the joy and the real purpose for the holidays. The season is supposed to be about getting together with family, giving thanks, doing things for others, and sharing in the joy of the celebration of Jesus’s birth.
So I’ve decided this year will be different. No more panic attacks when shopping at Walmart. No more meltdowns when I can’t find the right tupperware after Christmas dinner (true story). I’m not going to let stress get to me, and here’s how I’m going to do it:
1. Make gift giving simple and fun. I have a list of people I will shop for as well as a budget and a few gift ideas. I do enjoy shopping, wrapping and giving the gifts. I don’t enjoy the pressure to find the perfect gift. So I’ve given myself permission to buy imperfect gifts and to not stress about it. (Don’t worry, I’ll include a gift receipt.)
2. Make time for the things I enjoy. Some of these things I’ve listed above, and I’m also going to make time to relax. I’ll watch a Christmas movie, meditate, do yoga, blog or find some other fun, low-key activity.
3. Stay active. This is one of the most helpful things I can do to manage my stress. I was super ticked off about something holiday-related before I went for a run today. When I got back, my mood completely switched. I’d like to keep running, and when it’s too dark, cold or snowy outside, I’ll do one of my indoor workouts.
4. Keep perspective. When something starts getting to me that I can’t control, I’m going to decide not to stress about it. Plans might change, people might create more work for me, or I might not be able to do everything I want to. I’m going to decide it’s not worth it to stress about it. Going to mass and meditating help to keep me grounded. I’m going to try to make it to mass each Wednesday in Advent to keep perspective.
5. Cut back on sugar. It’s EVERYWHERE this time of year, and it really impacts my mood. I’m not going to give it up completely, but I’m going to make sure I have good, healthy foods available to me so I’m less likely to cave to sweet temptations.
6. Give. It’s a big part of the season, and it makes me feel good to do something for someone else. Time and money are tight, but I can always find something to give. Maybe I’ll volunteer or donate food or clothes.
7. Be thankful. This also helps with #4. I’m working on being more positive and finding the good in all situations, especially the frustrating ones. I’m going to make an extra effort to notice and thank people for what they do. I want to spend time each night meditating on all the good that happened that day and give thanks to God.
8. Cultivate realistic expectations of myself and others. I have a lot on my plate this holiday season, and I need to recognize it’s not going to be perfect. Everybody else has a story, too, and I can’t expect them to do everything my way. We’re doing our best, and we just need to take a breath and find the good in the situation.
What do you do to manage the stress of the holiday season?