The holiday season is here once more, and as we all know, for some of us it’s less a vacation as opposed to more work around the house. More back and forth to the grocery store, in and out of the kitchen; with all kinds of tasks to complete the holiday time could end up being overly hectic. Whether its visits to family members and friends or hosting people at home, you could end up being more busy than you’d planned. Sometimes you find your hands full with taking care of people coming in and out of the house, or helping host at the homes of other family members and friends, baking, frying, cooking, cleaning, making sure the kids are all in one place and ensuring that the holiday events all run smoothly; it can all take a tremendous toll.

So how is it possible, with all of this, to maintain your cool and stay on an even-keel? Well, sometimes it just isn’t. Knowing when to take a real break and how to deal with the stress even in the ‘holiday’ season is important to one’s overall health. Some of us fall into the trap of, when being stressed, to keep trudging through. That couldn’t be further away from what needs to be done to gain some stress-relief. Sometimes it pays to just stop and take a break.

Tips for removing the stress out of your holidays

  • Meditate – This should be a routine to consider developing even in less stressful periods of one’s life. Learning to start the morning with being calm, centred, and relaxed is something to consider as becoming an integral part of one’s day. A calm and positive start to the day sets the tone for the rest of the day and even the coming week.
  • Breathe Deeply – Once you begin to feel the onset of being flustered or confused, always take a moment to catch a breath. Relax and take in a couple deep breathes. Take the moment, it helps, and it takes less time than you think.
  • Be present & slow down – Enjoy those small moments of getting to be around family during the holidays. In the grand scheme of things, with work, schoo,l and the host of obligations that beset us it’s moments like these which really stick in our memories. Try not to think about the emails you need to answer or the paperwork left to be done when you get back from holiday, just enjoy the moment!
  • Massage – Getting a much needed massage every two weeks or so goes a long way to releasing the tension throughout your body. It’s the holidays…treat yourself to something nice! Or make sure and mention out loud that a nice massage won’t be a bad Christmas gift by any means.
  • Focus on smiling more – As the old saying goes: “fake it till you make it!” Keep that smile on your face and eventually it’ll become genuine. A smile is one of those actions that sends energy to and from – from you and to the person you’re smiling to, and vice-versa. Use your new found energy wisely!
  • Decompress – Find some alone time even after the day’s events to get yourself together. Whether it’s just doing something you like, ie. watching a movie, going for a walk or chit-chatting on the phone with a friend, decompressing is critical to getting that feeling of relief.
  • Dance – It’s the holidays for heaven sakes…DANCE! Get to moving! Crank up the music, shake a leg and get to moving. The act of dancing naturally relieves the body of tension, you’re bound to be happier after a nice little jig.
  • Be grateful – After all, it’s the holidays and you get to spend it with family and friends. Be thankful for the things you can’t buy, family, friends, relationships, life. Sometimes the extra bother of having kids running through the house and being a ‘bother’ (as most kids naturally prove to be) is a blessing in disguise.

Don’t do too much

Mince pie, Christmas cakes, Christmas pudding, trifle,  whatever the treats you’re preparing for the holiday cookout, you could probably consider cutting down on one or two. Every dish ought not to be a necessity, and every decoration isn’t a must. The Christmas tree would be just fine with all the lights and angels and ornaments you already put up, maybe you don’t need all five different shapes of bulbs to make it the perfectly-best, superduper-ultimate Christmas tree ever. Make sure that you put limits to the compulsiveness for decorating or cooking, or tell your partner in advance to let you know when you should stop.  

With the holidays, we usually take on so much that it becomes a head-spinning headache – the holidays that is. Sometimes you end up being the unofficial host, other times you’re a makeshift bartender, housekeeper, and/or caretaker for everyone’s kids running all through the house. It’s the life we’ve chosen. Kids, spouses, in-laws, cousins, we’ve got to love them. But after all it does take its toll.The toll both physically and psychologically can be enormous. Think about why holidays exists, in essence it’s actually about family and having some down-time, not really about the extra stuff that comes along with it. There’s no need to go overboard with the sponge cake or Scottish shortbread (my personal favorite!) either.

Knowing your limitations and putting a lid on all the cooking and home decorating would work wonders in reducing stress. Quite frankly it’s not a competition with your neighbours, or friends, or with the decorating feats you may have accomplished years prior. Self-induced stress is too much to put on yourself especially considering the levels of stress experienced throughout the year.

Give the tech a rest…it’s the holidays

Without question, our parents’ generation, or those prior, never had the issue of technology being viewed as a distraction or being considered a ‘stressor’ in the way that we do. For our modern generation it is a blessing that also comes with its own negatives. Technology allows us to communicate with people thousands of miles away almost instantaneously. It’s of unbelievable benefit to mankind. However, with these new gains, the world is faced with new problems, and for the most part it comes down to interpersonal relations – or the absence of. Ensuring that you make a bit more time for being in the moment and taking a rest from the emails, social media platforms, selfies etc. and focusing on those around you can be extremely beneficial.

There’s a popular game that’s played which has proven effective in limiting technology use to some degree in familial or friendly settings. For example, when having dinner at the dinner table, or drinks in the veranda, everyone ought to put the cell phones at the center of the table or even in a bag somewhere away from sight. The first person to go after their phone has to perform a task that’s generally undesirable eg. do the dishes, clean up the dining room etc.

Taking a break from the almost hypnotic grip of technology and basking in the more traditional joys of conversation and human interaction would go a long way in making us generally happier and healthier.

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