Having Fun Yet?? ... Thoughts on Holiday Stress
Holiday stress is one of piling on. It's compounded. While there is commonality among most of us that says "it's money, errands, work, commitments, cooking, shopping, setting a diet plan, destroying a diet plan, family," etc., there is other stress that's deeply personal and it backs up on you. If it's weight, you're focused on that rabbit hole. If you don't drink, there's a party in every direction. And so on. Think of "your thing" and then add the holidays and you're pretty much there.
Whole segments of TV shows are dedicated to keeping us up when we are sinking, books have been published by the thousands and everyone from Dr. Oz to the Mayo Clinic is advising. And still we know holiday stress is coming, and with that stress comes opportunities to say things - especially to ourselves - that are self-destructive and useless.
I say, screw that. The first person you should say Merry Christmas to (or Happy Hanukkah or Festivus) is YOU.
You know how financial advisors tell you to pay yourself first and then take care of other money matters? Keeps you from running low and then making poor choices, right? The same is true for self-care. Put your oxygen mask on before helping the child seated next to you.
Listing a few things you need to do to truly enjoy the holidays and then sticking to that list will help you.
Here are a few of my favorite things.... to do this time of year:
- Choose a gift you would not give yourself (can't justify the expense or seems self-indulgent) and ASK FOR IT. You'd be surprised how those who love you will step up. People want to give.
- Find a local cause, charity and participate in giving back. Whether it's at your child's school, your church or community center or doing something for service people you know - focus some of your holiday energy on strangers or non-family members. It's soul work and you'll never regret it.
- Pick one resolution that you plan to start in January and start it now at 50%. If you're going to overhaul your exercise or diet routines, do a little bit to ease into it over the holiday. Your brain will begin the transition vs. the "needle on a record" switch from frosted sugar cookies to kale and deep gulps of air.
- Use your words. I mentioned asking for a special gift; well you should also ask for intangibles. If you need help, ask for it. Speak up on your own behalf when you know you need assistance. Don't wait until you're so frustrated that what your saying comes out as a melt-down. And use your words to show love. Everyone needs to be told that they matter. Lavish Thank Yous, I Really Appreciate Yous, and You Mean So Much To Mes on those close to you. It's like a tonic. You'll feel so good saying it and you'll give the recipient a goose in the shorts too.
- Finally, carve out time for "nothing." Americans get very little rest and as a mother of two, a business owner and involved community member, I am early to bed and early to rise. During the holidays though, I "plan" downtime. Doesn't have to be a full-on, day-long bed-in with movies, my journal, media and hours ahead for napping. But shoot for that at least one day of that. If it turns out that you only get a short disco nap (20 min) here and there between the 24th of December and the 2nd of January, you'll at least have given yourself a break.
You are loved!! Don't forget to love yourself first and then you'll do a better than average job avoiding holiday stress.