Bringing Happiness to the Holidays: Decreasing Stress
The Holidays are a wonderful time of year but for many it also is very stressful, 0verwhelming and not as wonderful as one might put on to the outside world. This month I am writing a five part series on “Bringing Happiness to the Holidays.” This week’s focus is on how to decrease stress.
What is it about this time of year that makes us so stressed out? The answer is looking at us in the mirror. Yes, I said it. It’s YOU. Each of us controls our own stress level. We are the ones that plan and go holiday shopping, manage the crowds, the parties, buy the gifts we probably shouldn’t buy, cooking, baking, the list goes on and on.
The definition of insanity according to the Urban Dictionary is: doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. : ) Sound familiar? I get it. Well, not this year. Don’t let the Holidays turn you into the Grinch.
But how?! Let’s start with managing your stress levels. Below are my top stress relievers:
Get a massage. When administered by a well-trained practitioner, massage therapy can help your state of mind. Benefits of massage include decreasing stress, depression and anxiety. A massage can help shift your thoughts away from everyday stressors allowing your mind and body to relax. Massage also plays a vital role in circulation which helps manage illnesses. (No one has time to get sick during this time of year.)
Breathe. Taking a moment to take three deep and calming breaths is always an instant relaxation technique. Fill the house with calming, aromatic essential oils or homemade potpourri. Using the Organic essential oils of Ylang Ylang, Lavender or Orange not only make your house smell fabulous but also have a calming effect.
Organize. Half of the Holiday chaos is just simply disorganization. Take a few minutes to write down your to do list, your gift list, your Holiday menu, grocery list. Mark them off as you complete them. The sense of accomplishment alone will relax you.
Delegate. If you are hosing the Holiday meal, ask your guests to bring a dish to share. This not only frees up your time but also lightens the grocery bill. Make it more fun by asking that guests also bring copies of the recipe to share. If you are going to someone else’s home for the Holiday, ask what you can bring-an appetizer, a side or dessert. This is your chance to try the new recipe you pinned on your Pinterest board last week. Delegate the cleaning. Turn on some Holiday music, hand out the dust cloth, vacuum and mop and put your family to work. They will feel good knowing they helped you and everyone will have fun in the process. Delegate the grocery shopping too. Many grocery stores offer online ordering and free delivery.
Give. Instead of stressing over what to buy everyone for Christmas from a store why not donate the money you would have spent to a charity. If someone on your list is an animal lover donate in their name to her local animal shelter. A family with kids would enjoy knowing they helped another family in need. If you need ideas, Consumer Reports has a great list of the best (and worst) charities.
Enjoy ME Time. We often get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our schedules and forget that we each need ME time. Take a break and make yourself a cup of hot tea in the afternoon. Or, take a brisk morning walk to enjoy the fresh air. Send everyone to bed early (even if you have to set the clocks ahead in the house and change the time zone on the family phones). Then read a chapter of the book on your nightstand. Or, put on earphones to listen to your favorite music. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at a crowded concert. The tugging on your pants is nothing more than the people around you (not the kids wanting a snack). Eat the last piece of chocolate or bowl of ice cream (even if you have to hide in the closet to do so.)
Volunteer. The holidays can be a lonely time of year. That feeling of loneliness can lead to the holiday blues. One way to socialize and feel a sense of purpose is to help others. You might ask yourself, what can I do or how can I help? There are many volunteer opportunities during the Holidays. Call your local churches, schools, nursing homes and Chamber of Commerce to inquire on how you can help.
I would love to hear about your go-to stress beating strategies in the comments section below.