Prepping for a Less Stressful Holiday
The holiday season is upon us, and for some reason seems more frenzied year by year. Instead of one holiday party, we now send out hundreds of holiday cards (with only the most perfect pictures of our children or animals), attend weekly holiday parties between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve (possibly hitting 2-3 parties in one night), sleep less, eat more, exercise less, replace meditation and quiet time with strolls through overcrowded malls with glazed over eyes, bake and cook too much, sign kids up for the best polar express (if not 5 different ones), and forget about the importance of their schedules by taking them to countless tree-lightings.
How can we have a less stressful holiday? How can we make sure our families, and especially children enjoy the holidays without excessive tantrums and sleep deprivation? Set boundaries. It is hard because it means saying “no”, it means asking people who don’t like to compromise to do just that, and it means you may not please everyone – but let’s be honest, you never will anyway so let’s just let go of that one right now. You need to take care of YOU and your family.
Here are some quick tips:
Prioritize – does sending out an awesome picture to your 459 relatives make you the happiest? Then do that, but skip the cookie swap.
Make a Family Plan – how many holiday parties or events will you attend? Talk to your family about the importance of taking care of yourselves during this high stress time. If your child needs to be in bed at 7pm to function like a human the following day – decline the late night parties.
Schedule Exercise into Each Day – even 20 minutes is better than nothing! If friends want to get together for drinks or desserts, why not suggest going on a walk or attending a yoga class together instead?
Buy Local and Small – Skip the mall and shoot for small craft fairs with local artisans. Make gifts if you have time. Suggest to some that you skip the gifts and either plan a night out once the holidays are over, or make gift giving a challenge and see who can buy the funniest t-shirt/ornament/hat for 5 dollars.
Eat Healthy and Drink Water – you don’t need to pick on the 985 types of cookies your co-workers brought in just because they are sitting there.
Meditate or Sit Quietly – even 5 minutes a day will help. Check in with yourself, do a body scan. Are your shoulders up around your ears? Give them a few rolls. Are your hamstrings tight? Stretch them out. Take that time every day even if it means locking yourself in the bathroom while your kids make light sabers out of wrapping paper rolls. Take 5 minutes for you and you may just find yourself joining in with the light saber game instead of yelling and screaming that they will ruin the wrapping paper.
Erin writes blogs for Whitman Wellness Center and is author of:
The Everything Guide to Stepparenting
The Anxiety Workbook for Girls
When Big Issues Happen to Little Girls
Currently Erin works as Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Whitman Wellness Center and a public school where she sees children, adolescents, and families experiencing a range of issues, including trauma, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorders, adjustment disorders, and more.