With Christmas, Kwanza and the New Year just around the corner, women of all ages often share how stressful the holiday season is for them. Here are ten strategies to reduce your stress and bring more meaning and pleasure back to the holidays.
1. Ask yourself if you enjoyed the lasts few holiday seasons, and what
you could do differently to minimize your stress (http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-facts.pdf) and spend more quality time with your family and community.
2. Instead of doing everything your self, set up family meetings to plan the holidays together. Split up the task list, and ask your husband/partner to take care of gifts for their own relatives. When family members all contribute, everyone feels better!
3. Plan the meals with healthier options and easier recipes. Consider picking up a few dishes at your favorite stores or restaurants. And remember that guests appreciate contributing to holiday meals as well.
4. Protect your exercise time before and during the holidays. Take a walk alone or with the family, meet a friend at Zumba, pre-pay for fitness classes – and go! With regular exercise, a consistent bedtime and healthy eating during the holiday season, you’ll likely feel calmer, better about your body, and have more energy and fun.
5. Try not to add to your stress by redecorating or painting the house this and next week. Instead, enjoy your home the way it is and remember that your guests are really not looking at your paint! After the visit, they’ll only recall quality time with you during a special occasion.
6. Enjoy honoring old family and cultural traditions over the holidays and create new ones in your own home.
7. Block out time to be alone with family to catch up, play games and laugh, go on a date with your spouse/partner, attend meaningful holiday services and events, and call your closest childhood friend! After the holidays, you will all remember those moments and not the meals, presents or decorations.
8. Invite all of your family members to volunteer over the holidays. So many individuals and community groups appreciate your time and contributions and giving to others certainly creates meaning.
9. Slow down, give up trying to please everyone, plan ahead, ask for help early and often, keep up with exercise, get some rest, and put your oxygen mask on first.
10. Don’t wait for another year to step back and focus on who and what is important to you and your family during the holidays.
May your 2015 holidays be less stressful and more meaningful!
Copyright © 2015 Helen L. Coons, Ph.D.