Thanksgiving has past and the holiday season is upon us. It is supposed to be the embodiment of all things good: comfort, relaxation, joy, laughter and time spent with family and friends. While truly one of the most wonderful times of the year, for many it can become the most stressful time of the year. Commitments, parties and endless to-do lists, leave many feeling exhausted, depressed and unhappy. Holiday stress statistics reported by the American Psychological Association show that:
69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time”
69 % are stressed by a perceived “lack of money” and
51% feel stressed out over the “pressure to give or get gifts”
This year can and will be different, if you make a conscious effort to make it so. A combination of cutting back on activities, taking shortcuts and adjusting your own seasonal expectations can help you to enjoy the holidays to the fullest without maxing out your energy, schedule and credit cards. Try to remember the true meaning of Holiday traditions and celebrations. Decided which of these bring the most positive impact and joy to your life. Once you have decided which of these are important, eliminate unnecessary efforts.
For example, are overwhelmed by your yearly whirlwind of baking, cooking, party planning, sending cards and visiting relatives? Are you begging for relief come January? It is time to reassess your priorities.
Don’t be more strung out than the lights on your tree! Be proactive. Use these tips and suggestions from the Mayo Clinic to help simplify your life this Holiday season.
Not everyone can be Martha Stewart, the Holidays DO NOT have to be perfect, or exactly like last year. Families change and grow, as do traditions. Choose a few to hold on to, but also be open to creating new ones.
For example: if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videotapes.
Stick to a Budget
Don’t try to buy happiness. Before gift and food shopping, set a budget within your means. Then stick to it! Debt sticks around long after all those presents get unwrapped and food consumed.
Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan menus and then make shopping lists from those. This will help prevent last minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Be sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
Learn to Say “No”
How many times do you say yes when you should have said no? Then you are left feeling overwhelmed and resentful towards a person or activity that should have been enjoyable? Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits
Allow yourself to enjoy during the Holidays, but don’t let them become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
Try this: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Be sure to continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
Set Aside Differences
The Holidays can be a time of heightened emotion for not only you, but for others around you as well. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside differences until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes wrong.
Take a Breather
Make some time for you! Spend15 minutes alone, no distractions. This may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Acknowledge your Feelings
If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteer your time to help others
Seek Professional Help if Needed
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
This season make sure to take care of the best gift of all…you are your peace of mind, body and health!
© 2012 Inspired Living, LLC
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Keri Murphy and the Inspired Living team is on a mission to empower people to use their unique talents in a way that allows them to Dream, Live and BE all that is possible through speaking, coaching, celebrity interviews and original on-line content. Get Inspired at inspiredliving.tv