Although Christmas time should be a magical time of year where we enjoy time with family and friends, exhibit the spirit of giving and celebrate Jesus’ birthday—for a lot of people the holidays are an extremely stressful time. And understandably so.
We are expected to continue with our already overly-busy everyday activities but are also faced with the tasks of planning and attending parties and get-togethers, purchasing gifts in overcrowded malls, preparing eight-course meals for those visiting us for the holidays, decorating our homes for the season, and attending programs at school and church. Of course all of these things are wonderful, but when they all fall within the confines of a few weeks they can be real stressors.
According to a recent survey released by the American Psychological Association, nearly 75% of respondents reported unhealthy stress levels in 2010. The survey also found that parents may underestimate the impact of stress on their families. While 69% of parents say their stress has little or no impact on their children, 91% of kids ages 8 to 17 report that they can tell when their parents are stressed. There’s no doubt that in our efforts to make this the “most wonderful time of the year,” the holiday season can bring on even more stress. The “Holiday Stress Index” conducted by Harris Interactive reported that 90% of respondents say they experience stress during the holiday season.
What are you doing to reduce your level of stress this season? Here are just a few practical tips I am going to try to implement in my own life that may help you too:
- Try all things in moderation. Don’t justify your overindulgence. Sure there are tons of yummy things to enjoy this season, but are they really worth going up a size in clothes for?
- Don’t try to meet everyone else’s expectations. Learn to downsize, pace yourself and plan ahead.
- Budget for Christmas and stick to it! Let’s face it —we’d all like to be as generous as possible. But if it’s going to cause undue stress and, even worse, take a year to pay off, then set a reasonable spending limit and stick to it.
- Get plenty of rest. A good amount of sleep, whether during the holidays or any other time during the year, can be the best way to relieve stress. If you are very tired and have had little sleep, you can’t enjoy your time at those parties, and you will find yourself cranky in those overcrowded stores. It is imperative that you get plenty sleep in order to manage your stress during this busy time.
- Although you may be busier than any other time of the year, don’t forget the benefits of exercise. You may have to modify your routine or cut it short, but don’t give it up entirely. Exercising will not only give you much needed energy, but it’ll also help stave off the extra holiday pounds and will help alleviate stress.
- Remember, it’s okay to say no. Don’t overextend yourself by accepting every social invitation you receive. Select the things that you really want to do and really enjoy those things. You can always reschedule with friends for the New Year and then you’ll have something fun to look forward to.
- Sit by the tree and soak it all in. Remember the blessings of the past year, reminisce about your favorite Christmas memories, sip a cup of your favorite coffee or cider and just enjoy the silence.
Don’t let stress ruin the holidays for you. By being intentional about your schedule and commitments over the next few weeks this season can be the best you’ve ever had!