Truthfully speaking, even the most joyful among us will experience some level of holiday-related stress this season. Fortunately, a lot of stress can be reduced by choosing to put realistic expectations on what we can humanly accomplish in addition to our already demanding schedules. Let’s explore a few thoughts on how to head off unwanted Grinchy-ness.
Joyful shopping: Remember to allow enough time to drive, park, and shop to avoid the stress of running late or not getting through your list. Expect the reality of delays and over-stressed drivers. Greet distracted or angry drivers with a smile, not a finger as the latter only feels good for a brief moment. Insurance claims definitely quell holiday joy. Talk about a lump of coal! If you think you need half a day to shop, in reality this may translate to a full day. Do not punish yourself with an unhealthy pace and ensure you take time for a nice meal and hydration.
Creating a realistic list: Often we start in November with visualizing the list of gift-giving, food prep, socializing, and family functions, but as the holidays approach we realize that some of these expectations need to be pared back. No one can do it all in a few weeks. Create a list that will leave you with the energy to smile and feel joy that is balanced with caring and giving to others. The holidays are known as a time for togetherness and we can choose to really enjoy it if we have healthy expectations. For example, keep things achievable by joining a cookie exchange as opposed to trying to bake seven kinds of sweets. Encouraging a pot-luck approach to family get-togethers can help you find your way out of the kitchen and onto the couch with the rest of the family.
Spending wisely: Create a viable plan for gift purchasing to avoid the cold sweats associated with the glorious arrival of January bills. I have been working as therapist with children and families for over 13 years and “stuff” does not create sustainable, real happiness. Visualize yourself going into 2013 with a sense of control over your finances – what approach to the holidays will that require? If the answer is cancelling commercial Christmas then this is a chance to choose a holiday defined more by tradition and togetherness, than over-spending. Choosing to avoid impulse purchasing or rushed-shopping will help in this area. Some people find more enjoyment in watching the Christmas classic movies on DVD or online to avoid being inundated with commercials that convince us over-priced products equate happiness and goodness.
Smart Socializing: Choose a fun, yet balanced approach to socializing. It is so easy to fall into the trap of being over-stressed, over-fed, and over-indulged while trying to fit too many engagements in. It is unhealthy to neglect the reality of alcohol. Late drinks are a sleep-stealer because we start off feeling tired only to awake a few hours later due to alcohol rebound. The depressant effects of alcohol, lack of sunlight, and disrupted sleep can leave you feeling quite Grinchy this time of year. Everything in moderation!
If you are noting your joy is being dampened by stress head off the irritability and muscle tension with a relaxing massage, counseling or acupuncture session. Our team is here to help you enjoy your holidays and usher in a happy, health 2013.