I love the holidays. It’s a magical time of year. However, along with the excitement and eager anticipation comes a significant amount of stress and anxiety. After all, no matter how carefully we plan our holiday festivities, sometimes they don’t always work out quite like we planned. The warm, cozy evenings with friends and family, the carefree winter days spent playing with the kids in the snow, out of town family coming to visit, and the fun-filled weekends at the shopping mall sound wonderful in theory. And then reality hits.
Let’s face it–the holidays can be an awful lot of work. Also, high expectations can lead to deep disappointments, especially when we invest so much of ourselves and our time making this the perfect holiday season for everyone else. Even worse is when you wake up on January 2nd feeling exhausted and depleted. You may even wonder how the holiday season passed by without even having the opportunity to fully enjoy it. And then you wistfully say to yourself, “Next year will be different.”
Yeah, I know. Been there and done that myself more times than I care to admit. But take heart–the key is to keep your stress levels under control, and here are three simple quick tips to help you make this year your best holiday ever.
1). Indulge yourself.
No, really, I’m serious. Put yourself at the top of your gift list and give yourself permission to indulge yourself. I don’t mean go out and buy yourself a Lexus or a fur coat. I mean spend at least 20-30 minutes every day to do something simple but pleasurable. Go for a walk to enjoy the lights in your neighborhood. Turn off the TV and relax with a cup of tea and a good book. Or, just get down on the floor and make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes, listen to the rhythm of your breathing, and let your body sink into the floor. You’ll be amazed how these simple activities will calm your nervous system, rejuvenate your senses, increase your energy, and give you a feeling of well-being.
2). Just say no.
This is the time of year that we get inundated with every type of invitation that is known to mankind. Don’t feel like you have to accept each invitation for every party, dinner, brunch, or countless performances of the Nutcracker. Just say no. If you are really looking forward to an event and want to attend, that sounds like a good investment of your time. If an event feels like an obligation that you have to attend, or if you’re dreading it, that’s a pretty clear sign to just say no and stay home.
Be selective and prioritize how you spend your time just as you as you budget how you spend your money for the holidays. Just like you don’t want to start the new year with credit cards over their limit, you don’t want to start the new year worn out and exhausted. It would be much more satisfying to have warm memories of happy holidays.
3). Step away from the phone.
Put your phone away, especially when you are shopping or doing errands. Not only does your phone distract you, trying to attend to your phone while you are doing other tasks really ratchets up your nervous system into high gear. That alone will increase your levels of stress and anxiety.
But even more important is that it presents a significant safety hazard. And I don’t mean that you might trip over an escalator or walk into a water fountain at the mall. Unfortunately, there is a dramatic increase in crime during the holiday season because people are overwhelmed, distracted, and often times careless. That is exactly what perpetrators are looking for. A distracted person makes an easy target. So please, please, please put your phone in your purse, pocket or backpack and focus on your surroundings instead of in your hand. You’ll be safer for it.
Here’s wishing you a very Merry Christmas, a safe and Happy New Year, Season’s Greetings and multiple blessings for whatever holiday you celebrate. Most of all, be healthy, and remember what really matters is to take care of yourself as well as the people closest to you. After all, your loved ones want you to enjoy the holidays, too.