Stress is a normal part of life. Although many of us on a healing journey learn early on how important it is to manage our stress and employ stress reduction techniques, the holidays seem to amp it up.
Are you a holiday perfectionist? Do you need everything to be just so? So decorated, so full, so baked, and so wrapped? Maybe it is time to reconsider your holiday priorities! What are the holidays truly about for you? Have you gotten caught up in the consumerism of the holiday? It's not too late to rethink and be intentional.
Perhaps you could simplify. Pick only the most important decorations and pare down the rest. Pick only the most enjoyable events with the people you like most and stay home for more cozy relaxation. Maybe bake only half as many treats and goodies as you used to (no one needs all that extra sugar anyway)!
Perhaps a paring down of your gift giving list is also in order. Switch to giving experiences and making memories instead of buying more consumer goods that no one really needs. Explore more eco-friendly options for gift wrap too…save yourself some time and help the planet. (One hot tip…. I wrap the lids of boxes and reuse them year after year. I have one box that has been around since the late 80’s!)
My two sons are young adults now and this certainly makes things easier (also, they aren’t girls, so priorities are definitely different)! We discuss before each holiday what is important to each of us and then decide as a family how we will celebrate the holidays. We pick the traditions most important to us, eliminate the outdated ones, and create some new ones.
Over the past couple of years, we have pared down our decorations. My three guys don’t need much at all, but I do like a festive spirit and a lit-up tree by the fireplace is so nice! However, I've been known to have just the tree with lights and no decorations. And I definitely do not need to have Christmas start before or right after Thanksgiving. I’m ok with a tree up for only a few weeks...or a month or so! One year it stayed up through my son's birthday on January 22 so I redecorated it with photos and memorabilia all about him!
My extended family is in Kansas, and we do not feel the need to travel on the holidays. We visit over the summer instead. It used to be that we would visit Kansas for Thanksgiving and celebrate Christmas at that time but when the boys were in college there wasn't enough time to make the trip so we adjusted. My husband’s family is local, and we have a lovely tradition of celebrating Christmas day in our lounge wear with a buffet style meal that is ready whenever we are! Everyone contributes to the feast and only the hostess feels a little stress!?
Prioritize & Balance
Whatever you do intentionally decide is important to you for the holidays, be sure to maintain your balance and your healthy stress management practices. Keep meditating, exercising, and making healthy food choices. If you maintain your "healthy" most of the time then a few indulgences may be ok. As long as you know you can get right back on track. If you know one sweet treat will push you over the abyss then just say no!
Also be sure to get the sleep and rest time you need. Try to keep to your sleep schedule and bedtime routine. You might also consider making one day of the weekend a "no event/no stress" day that you can spend snuggled up and relaxing with a favorite book, pet or person!
Setting boundaries can be a challenge but it is possible and this is a great time of year to start! Minimize the time you spend with family members that trigger you. You can see them AND you do not have to let them push your buttons! You get to choose how you will respond to them.
As M. Laura Nasi, MD says in her book Cancer as a Wake-up Call, “It’s important to identify situations that stress us, ones that make us NUTS. They usually have one or more of these characteristics:
N = New, novel
U = Unexpected, unpredictable
T = Threat to our ego
S = Sense of being out of control
In these situations, it is important that we discharge adrenaline." These are things that can cause us to drop into fight, flight, or freeze and lose our relaxation response. If you think ahead and have a plan for how to respond you will be less likely to react. It’s also good to have a plan for releasing that stress-filled energy. Perhaps you can immediately and literally shake it off. Maybe you will need to excuse yourself to the restroom to take a moment (or ten) to yourself. Perhaps you have a calm and centered partner or friend that will be there. If so, borrow their calmness, ask for a hug, or just share a secret giggle over the situation at hand.
Remember that the holidays DO NOT HAVE TO BE what we have made them in the past. Just because the world is unbalanced, does not mean we have to be. We all know that consumerism has gotten out of control. I mean really, do we need Christmas decorations and gifts to be on display in October? NO! We do not! Buying into that mentality is what drives the momentum of stress. Choose to opt-out this year and enjoy what matters most….your health and your loved ones!
Instead opt-in to relaxation and cozy conversations by the fire, less gifts, more meaningful experiences with your favorite people, and healthy holistic living year-round! Just because you did it in the past doesn't mean you have to keep doing it!
I would love to know....have you changed your holiday traditions? What do you do differently to support your holistic lifestyle during a busy holiday season?
In peace, love and health,