How to deal with holiday stress!
Heart rates spike, pupils dilate, muscles tighten: Holiday stress is real! “You want what? You need homemade cookies, when? Do you have practice today? Is that tonight?” Any of this sound familiar? “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps...means a little bit more.”
Holiday Stress is Real Whether you are a diehard Christmas fan or someone who just wants to get it over with, the holidays are frantic, stressful, and for some even painful. The holiday traffic, attempting to schedule a time for a family gathering, preparing the traditional holiday menu, looking for the perfect gift, decorating the house, and providing meaningful experiences for your children create this short-term stress!
Family Stress and the Holidays I’m no stranger to holiday stress. I recall, several years ago on a cold damp December day prior to Christmas when stress made me do something that I hesitate to share. I was not feeling well. I had all the symptoms of a cold and I surely did not have time to be sick. I was teaching and decided to go by the doctor’s office before going home. After the doctor's visit and stopping at the drug store to get a prescription filled, I was late getting home. Upon arriving home, one child announced that she needed cookies for the following day and told her teacher she would bring homemade chocolate chip. Another admits that he forgot to tell me, he had to have a girl’s gift for school. I had finally found appropriate affordable gifts for my twenty-five-second graders and they needed to be wrapped. At some point, we needed to rehearse our lines for the church Christmas party. This was in addition to preparing dinner, the normal homework routine, and feeding the animals.
Laugh a little! I blame it on Holiday Stress Our basset hound, Big Daddy, was on medication for a leg injury. I took my medication, prepared the dog food, placed his medication on his food, and asked my son to go feed him. After uncontrollable laughter, my son said, “Mom this is not Big Daddy’s pill. You just took his pill, this is yours.”
Avoid fire hydrants Would the dog’s medication harm me? Remember, I did not have time to be sick. Feeling a little anxious and very embarrassed, I called the veterinarian. After telling him I had taken the dog’s medication, there was a pause and a chuckle. He said, “Most people who do that call and tell me their child took the dog’s medicine. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt you, just be sure to avoid fire hydrants for the next 24 hours.”
Create memories No one remembers if the cookies taken to school were homemade, what we did about a girl’s gift if the second graders' gifts were wrapped, or if we knew our lines for the church Christmas program but everyone remembers and shares that mom took the dog’s medicine.
Already Stressed? In preparation for writing this blog, I read several self-help publications on “Stress-free Holidays.” They were all interesting and contained good information. I’m sure some people do this and have no stress during the holidays. But, too late for me, I didn’t do these things and now I’m stressed. Here is what I learned about having stress-free holidays. 1. Do Christmas shopping all year. 2. Declutter before decorating. 3. Decorate in advance. 4. Do holiday cooking in advance and freeze. 5. Plan the holiday functions well in advance. 6. Take time for yourself 7. Relax and enjoy an outing with friends 8. Have fun
Next Year Maybe I will make a New Year’s Resolution to plan ahead and do things well in advance and enjoy a stress-free holiday season in 2022. But I didn’t do it this year and here we are two weeks before Christmas! What can I do?
Ten Things Experience Has Taught Me (not that I always practice it) 1. The things that matter are not the things that create stress. The perfect gift is not purchased. Spend time with those you love, make connections, learn to listen to others and to your body. Calm down, it will be O.K. 2. Know your role in the situation. If you didn’t create the problem, don’t own it. Get busy, find something else to do. Remove yourself from the situation. 3. Focus on what you can control. You cannot control what other people say and do, only your reaction to it. Smile! 4. Protect your time, say “No”. Be honest with yourself about how many parties you can handle. What’s important to you? 5. Limit your time on social media. Enough said. 6. Make a Christmas budget. The bills have to be paid in January. 7. Don’t overdo it on sugar. Indulge without over-consuming. 8. Get plenty of sleep and eat healthy 9. Stay hydrated 10. Spend time with loved ones. Do something you enjoy.
It’s OK to Feel the Way You Feel. One of the greatest holiday stresses is the absence of loved ones. Take joy in the family that is gathered and recall fond memories of those who are absent. Don’t let others make what you are feeling seems unimportant. It is OK to grieve the absence of loved ones.
Be Kind to Yourself Keep in mind that the holidays are about spending time with loved ones, not gifts. Your family will be happy to create memories with you. It is not an expensive gift they will remember; they will remember your efforts and affection. Accept the fact that the holidays bring joy and happiness as well as frustration and stress. This holiday season, relax, enjoy and be present in the moment. Remember the reason for the season, count your blessings, do something for someone else, and spread joy.
Merry Christmas from my home to yours!
Historic Granville is Closed December 24 & 25 but open Wednesday- Friday 11AM-3PM and Saturday 11AM-5PM. Visit to get in the holiday spirit!