Holidays are the most wonderful time of the year! Right? Right?! Well for many, holidays can be a source of anxiety and stress and sometimes depression. On top of our already-busy lifestyles we are expected to be put on a happy face, to be cheerful and bright, and to spend extra money to buy gifts and attend or throw parties.
Reasons holidays can be stressful include:
- Financial strain of buying gifts
- Finding time to buy gifts
- Increased traffic on the roads
- Crowded stores
- Trying to find a parking spot at the mall
- Wrapping gifts
- Mailing gifts
- Keeping up holiday traditions
- Added social obligations such as parties and family get-togethers
- Finding the perfect Christmas tree
- Decorating for the holidays
- Missing loved ones that have passed on or moved away
- Remembering the “good old days”
- Four words: Elf on the Shelf!
- Having to see relatives that we’ve successfully managed to avoid the rest of the year
- Baby, it’s cold outside! And dark!
- Cleaning your house for guests
- Sharing a bathroom with relatives (ie: houseguests)
- The bills that come after the holiday shopping is done
During all this added stress, it’s important to take time to take care of yourself! WebMD says, “Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.” So, stress during the holidays is nothing to ignore.
When I was 8 years old my father had a heart attack on Christmas eve. His arm and chest hurt, he was turning a grayish/greenish color and still he insisted on driving himself to the hospital to get checked out. He even took the scenic route to look at Christmas lights along the way! Since then my family has had many health emergencies during the holidays such as broken limbs, falls, knee injuries, brain tumors, the list goes on and on (and I haven’t even mentioned the plumbing emergencies!). It’s hard to not think of these things every year when the lights glow against the sparkling snow. Or on a green Christmas like the year when my dad had his heart attack.
That was the first year that my holiday traditions were interrupted. We woke up Christmas morning without my dad in the house. Instead we visited him in a hospital bed for two weeks and brought him a single present each day he was there. That was probably my first introduction to the concept that the true meaning of Christmas is sharing the love that you have for people that you care about with them. The rest is just fluff.
So, back to the stress thing. You may feel the need to bake 18 dozen of your famous Christmas cookies year after year, but what happens when you choose not to for just this year? You may find that you have more time to spend with the people you were baking for instead of fattening them up with empty calories. Or that someone bakes for you instead because they want to show you that they care for you too.
I talked about this a bit on the Good Day Rochester show:
I say, rethink your holiday traditions and ask yourself these questions:
- Why did I ever start this tradition?
- Do I like doing it?
- Does it still serve me?
- Is this tradition helping others?
- Does it add anything to my life?
- Does it cause me unnecessary stress?
Once you’ve asked yourself all these questions, you may decide to continue the tradition this year, or you could decide to say, “No! Not this year!” Whatever you decide, the important thing is to realize that you do have a choice. The power is within you to do what makes sense for you now.
Okay, that all sounds great, but it may take a few years to come to that point. Until then, here’s some things you can do to reduce stress during the holidays, or at least cope with it:
- Choose your favorite salt (epsom, dead sea, pink himalayan) and take a nice hot bath with it
- Eat less sugar (sugar can cause anxiety)
- Diffuse your favorite calming essential oils
- Get a mani-pedi or at least a manicure or pedicure. If you’ve never had a pedicure, here’s a hint: the chairs massage your back and neck while you sit there! And a human massages your legs!
- Take a deep breath and walk away if you have to. This may require hiding in the bathroom at Aunt Gertrude’s house. Whatever it takes!
- Bach Rescue Remedy
- Find a homeopathic remedy to match your symptoms of anxiety and/or depression
- Simplify your plans as much as possible so you’re not running all over the place to please others
- Get some exercise!
- Meditation/Quiet Time. Just take some time each day to be still and not worry about what you have to do next
- Learn to say NO! (worth mentioning again)
- Have everyone bring a dish to pass instead of making ALL the food
Here I am enjoying a Christmas-y mani-pedi. It. Was. Wonderful!
The main thing is to just take care of yourself. Slow down and appreciate the beauty of this season. No one remembers the presents, they remember your presence instead. Make your presence the present this year and see how much better you feel!