First let me say that I love and always have loved the season of Christmas. However, I must admit there have been Christmases where I found myself becoming more and more stressed and even a bit anxious. A stress-free Christmas doesn’t happen by itself. Being proactive by making time for your health, both physically and emotionally, is very important. If you can relate, these 12 easy tips for a stress-free Christmas is for you.
Have you ever noticed those social media graphics that remind us “only (insert number) until Christmas” actually promote feelings of stress, anxiety and even dread enter your mind? I must confess I have experienced this more than I care to mention and wonder why anyone feels like they must continually remind everyone. I mean, we all have access to calendars, right?
The Christmas season often brings health concerns such as flu and colds and even depression for a tremendous amount of people making the concept of a “stress-free Christmas” seem unattainable. In fact, many families actually expect to have some type of illness going on during the Christmas season. Experiencing illness during the month of December is usually a result of unhealthy eating (too much sugar), less sleep, built-up stress and limited sunshine – all of which bring your immune system down. And what parent hasn’t diligently prayed that everyone in the family would stay well during the holidays?
Unfortunately, many of us suffer from or exhibit symptoms of the holiday-perfection-syndrome. You might know what I mean or even have experienced this syndrome. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree (perfectly), decorating the house (perfectly), planning a Christmas get-together (perfectly) as well as a Christmas dinner (perfectly) that resembles those beautiful Christmas tablescapes on Pinterest or in home decorating magazines, all of which can become extremely stressful (especially for Type A personalities ).
What a path we humans have trod in the last 200 years going from Christmas simple to what our grandparents might call Christmas ridiculous. We find ourselves as some of the most stressed-out, unhealthy and depressed people at a time of the year meant for just the opposite. It’s no wonder many people say the holiday season has become their most dreaded time of the year.
Stress happens, but how we handle and process stress becomes very important to both our physical and emotional health. While there is certainly “good stress”, your body may have a difficult time in telling the difference between good stress and bad stress, especially in December. You can find the key to eliminating the harmful side effects of any type of stress (particularly during the holidays) in planning ahead, preparation, setting certain limits and just getting back to simplicity and the real reason for the season.
The following are some tips I have found over the years that work in achieving a stress-free Christmas. Although all these tips may not work for your family, some may help to solve or at least ease holiday stress. To me, the most important take away is that we can begin the journey to find our way back to what the Christmas Season represents — inspiration, peace, family, joy, warmth and good-will.
12 Easy Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
1) Focus on the act of mindful giving – not endless lists of “things”.
Shopping off of a “gift list” can give even the most seasoned shopper a sense of desperation. Begin some new in this area. Start a tradition of limiting the amount of gifts per family member. Some families find that setting a limit of three gifts per child which include one clothing outfit, one toy and one book. Set some price limits and encourage gifts-from-the-heart including gifts that focus on service to other family members (this works great for siblings). Encourage gifts of time to your friends and even your children. A hand-designed coupon for lunch or a movie “on your dime” can mean so much to your close friends. Gifts of a movie date with Mom or Dad will delight even the most finicky child.
2) Be in the moment.
Set a particular evening to decorate your tree and your home. Make a rule (yes, rules are okay) that every family member must help and contribute their time. Prepare some healthy snacks and some organic hot apple cider to sip on. Put on some bouncy and happy Christmas music throughout the house. If someone gets stressed (untangling light strands is usually the culprit) then they must take a short break to calm down. Teach your family “how” to handle stress in a successful manner and that screaming or storming off is unacceptable and inappropriate at any time of the year. Your children will thank you for this when they are older and have their own families. Once your home is decorated, you will feel less stressful about everything else that needs to get done. I do, anyway.
3) As soon as you make a gift decision, buy it and wrap it.
Don’t put shopping and gift wrapping off until the last-minute. I can say, from personal experience, that waiting until the last-minute is a recipe for stress and that bah-humbug feeling.
4) Healthy diet.
Make sure you and your family are eating three healthy meals and two healthy snacks every day. Include a raw salad with your meals at lunch and dinner. Keep a bowl of in-season fruit on the counter or in the fridge. Go easy on sugar, dairy and processed foods. Drink lots of purified water to keep your body hydrated and toxins flushed out. Yes, by all means, enjoy the food of the season, but remember that balance is the key.
5) Take a walk by yourself every day.
If you live where sunshine is abundant, try to get some sun on your arms and face every day. If you’re not able to get adequate sunlight then use full-spectrum lighting in your home and take a good quality Vitamin D3 supplement.
6) Don’t forget your supplements.
Take the following supplements every day: an organic multi-vitamin/mineral complex; coconut oil, probiotics and Vitamin D3. Our family uses the following products: intraMax; Floratrex; unrefined coconut oil or MCT oil and Bio D-Mulsion Forte. Including a daily dose of Vitamin C is also a good idea. If possible, incorporate a green smoothie into your diet every morning.
Our family likes and uses the Air Oil Aromatherapy Diffuser . This aromatherapy does not use water nor does it heat the essential oils. An up-lifting essential oil blend for Christmas is 4 drops of pine; 4 drops of sweet orange and 4 drops of ginger. This blend can also be used in your evening bath for some great stress relief. If a family member begins to show symptoms of illness, diffuse some eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, lavender oil or tea tree oil in their bedroom at night.
8) Make sure that all family members get at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night.
A bedtime that promotes good health is 10:30 p.m. every night. Your body does the most healing and repairing during sleep. Wear socks on your feet in order to eliminate awakenings. Sleep in total darkness and incorporate air purification in each room. Air ionizers are very effective and can help with allergies molds and even illness.
9) Promote the Christmas Spirit.
To further the Christmas spirit, plan an informal evening of Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. Invite each family to come along with you to the next house. Provide healthy hot chocolate or hot apple cider at the last home (make arrangements) or invite everyone to your home. There are many healthy recipes on the Internet for both hot chocolate and hot apple cider.
10) Adopt a family.
In the spirit of giving instead of getting, adopt a family for Christmas. Purchase groceries, clothing, shoes, toys, gift certificates, a Christmas tree, telephone calling cards, etc. Also, if funds permit, offer to pay for a month or two of electricity, heating fuel, gas. etc. After the holidays, continue to gift them by leaving a bag of groceries by the front door every so often. Invite your adopted family to go with your family to church services, caroling or to a Christmas pageant. Invite a college student, who cannot afford to go home, over for Christmas Day. Invite an elderly or single person, who is alone, over for Christmas dinner. Involve your children and allow them to experience what true giving is all about.
11) Christmas movie and book nights.
Pick out several age-appropriate Christmas movies and Christmas books to watch and read as a family during the month of December. Prepare some healthy snacks, light the fireplace and get out the blankets for some cozy family time.
12) Learn to say no thanks.
Limit the amount of parties, pageants and gatherings that your family will attend in December. Stress can quickly mount when trying to participate in every activity or gathering in which you are invited. Learn to politely say “no thanks.”
BONUS: Family Gatherings.
Family is very important and we will not have each other forever. Family differences, clashing personalities and past wrongs should be forgiven, forgotten and or set-aside. Practice the art of listening. Talk about what’s going on in each others lives as well as successes, hopes and dreams. Try not to participate in “heavy” conversations that can become judgmental or hurtful. Give hugs freely. Smile and laugh and be warm hearted. Enjoy Christmas day by including the whole family in the preparation of Christmas dinner. How about some board/card games or a friendly game of touch-football for the afternoon hours? Don’t forget to take some great pictures, but don’t be consumed by getting “the right” picture every time unless you were hired to do so.
After-Christmas down time.
Finally, plan some down time Christmas evening to unwind from the festivities. Watching an old Christmas movie (depicting simpler times) in front of the fire with your loved ones will have a calming effect. Diffuse some calming essential oils. Or put on a favorite Christmas CD, sit in front of the fire with a cup of organic coffee or hot tea and discuss the events of the season and look at the pictures family members shot. This makes for sweet memories and strengthens relationships.
Implementing some of the above Christmas Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas can help you and your family enjoy a memorable stress-free and healthy Christmas season and hopefully turn hearts back toward a season of not only peace on earth good will toward men, but also a season of peace and happiness in our hearts, home and family.
I love the Christmas season and I hope you do, also. Merry Christmas!!