Christmas is the time for friends and family and food and festivities…..and worries and stress and ever expanding waistlines and family drama! Ti’s the season to have your life choices mocked at the dinner table, and to gain (on average) 5-7 pounds of peace on earth?! We all love the holidays…right?
It can be difficult to manage all of the “joy” we feel during the Christmas season. Amongst all of the sparkles and melodies and candy-cane flavored goodness, there sneaks the pressure to be perfect; the re-hashing of family misunderstandings and arguments, the “festive fifteen” and aching reminders of any losses or grief we’ve experienced. Mixed up with all that are the constant year round stresses of time and money magnified by all those Christmas lights everywhere! Christmas can be magical and wonderful and spiritual and bright! So, how does one make the season one of peace and love and joy as it was intended? Here are some tips, thoughts and links to help you get your “piece of peace on earth”:
1. Christmas puts a lot of pressure on us to be happy and warm and lovingly picturesque for the holiday visits and scenes, and this can be tough when that is not the case the other 364 days of the year. Do what you can with what you have where you are…and be patient with yourself and your family for not being perfect. Remember that Christmas will not be perfect. You do not have to be perfect, and if you think others are managing to be perfect rest assured they are just really good and faking, hiding and ignoring the truth. The meal, the gifts and the time together do not need to be extravagant or spectacular…they need only be heartfelt, genuine and thoughtful: a reflection of you and the season. Try not to get caught up in competition, image, reputation or parade!
2. Try to stay in a routine. Sticking to some kind of normal daily routine as you rush to deck the halls and attend all those parties and errands will be helpful in managing it all. Most importantly, routines in the areas of sleeping, eating and exercise will help you to stay healthy, wealthy and wise! See the following link for some ways to stay in your exercise routine during the season! http://www.canada.com/touch/theholidayguide13/story.html?id=9264733
3. If you are grieving or reflecting on losses you’ve experienced, be gentle with yourself and respect both your psychological and physical limits. Grief can be especially hard at this time of year, and you are entitled to some quiet and special time to remember and honour that experience and person(s). For some tips on grieving during the holidays, check out https://www.centerforloss.com/tag/holiday-grief/
4. Find ways to manage your stress and juggle all of the joy. Stress and the business of the holidays can take away a lot of the glitter and magic of it all, and so being able to find ways to slow down, relax and enjoy our time with others, meals, gifts and decor are important! Here are some great tips for rejuvenating and de-stressing during the Christmas season: http://www.mindful.org/mindfulness-practice/mindfulness-%2526-awareness/please-be-home-for-the-holidays
5. Money can be a huge stressor during the season as there is the cost for gifts, travel, parties, stamps and cards, food, decor and all the little extras! While this is a reality of the season, there are some ways to be conscious and more comfortable with your spending and money management during the holidays. Check out the link for some ideas! http://christmas.organizedhome.com/get-organized/santa-savings-make-holiday-budget
6. Family is forever…at least that’s what it can feel like during the holiday season when you are surrounded by all that love and togetherness! While we love to see and catch up with our families, time with our relatives is one of the number one most reported stressors during the holidays! Here are some great tips for planning ahead and handling during all that fun with the family! http://bewell.stanford.edu/surviving-the-family-holiday
7. Depending on your work and/ or holiday schedule “time” is always a factor in the stresses of the season. You either have not nearly enough and get totally overwhelmed with all of the places and people you have to be and see, or…..you have way too much time on your hands. If you don’t have enough, think about prioritizing differently and letting some of the “perfection” pieces go. Consider inviting others to you instead of travelling all the time. Maybe, alternate traditions or visits year after year and consider delegating parts of the meal or decorations to other family members. If too much time is your challenge, consider some fun ways to celebrate the season! There are a lot of ways to fill that time that can bring joy, energy and goodwill in to your life! Try some fun physical activities (skating, skiing, snowman building, walks, snowball fights, sledding etc.), or some cooking and baking. You can also try doing some random acts of kindness in your community or giving your time and energy to a charity! Giving is one of the things that has the most psychological benefits for us and can bring up your mood, health and outlook in moments…tis better to give than receive after all!
8. If you are worried about the “festive fifteen” as many people are, there are some ways to counteract all of the Christmas calories. Being conscious of your food choices and doing your best to partake modestly are a good start (but there are so many treats!!!0 Check out the link for some ideas to help curb the cravings while still getting in some goodies! http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20646043,00.html
9. Listen to music. Music in general has the very powerful ability to shape our mood and do wonders for our problem solving, decision making and reasoning abilities. It can lift us up or help us find peace, and nowhere is this truer than with the sounds of the season! Christmas music can bring back memories and help you feel the Christmas spirit….find the songs that match your mood and have them create a beautiful background for your holiday happenings! Check out the ways music can ease your tension and lift you mood here! http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/womens-health/health-benefits-of-listening-to-music
10. Finally, recognize and embrace perspective during the holidays. All of that wrapping is overwhelming, yes, but it means you have gifts. The pressure to put on the perfect meal is powerful, but it means you have food. Not knowing whose family to spend Christmas morning with means there are many people who love you and want to spend time with you. The rushing around to deliver means you have many friends and the means to celebrate. The office parties and charity responsibilities mean you have a job and are able….be at peace with your many blessings this season, and find ways to help others find theirs.
Wishing you wellness, joy and peace this holiday season,
Ariel & the Knowledge is Power team