By now, you probably find yourself running in a million different directions trying to accomplish all of the shopping, baking, decorating and entertaining that is expected for the holidays. This is especially true for us women. But what if there were an easier, less stressful way to enjoy the holiday season? What if this method helped you to maintain your sanity and your health? Would you give it a chance? Or would you continue on your present path to a stress-filled season?
The method I am talking about first and foremost involves changing your thinking about what the Christmas season really means to you. Is it really about maxing out the credit cards or buying just one last gift? Or can you create a simple thoughtful gift with your own two hands? A gift that will be treasured much longer than one off of the store shelf. An example is a collage of family photos or a heartfelt poem that expresses the feelings you feel all year and long to share. If you are crafty, the internet is full of simple crafts that can help you to share your talents or even involve the kids. Check out http://www.pinterest.com for a boundless array of ideas that are free.
Do you really need to partcipate in ALL of the holiday parties that you and your family are invited to? Or can you prioritize and only attend those that you enjoy that create a feeling of joy? It really is okay to say no and put the energy into creating a special holiday tradition for you and other members of your family. When was the last time everyone in the family did anything together? This new tradition could be anything from decorating the tree as a group, to baking and decorating cookies, to singing Christmas carols for other people in the community. The possibilities are endless! (I know the traditions in my own family are what I, personally, treasure the most. Most of the gifts are long-gone. But the traditions and memories will last forever.)
I know that December is well under way, so you might wonder what can you do about the physical stress and anxiety that may already exist? How can you relax when time is running out and December 25th is coming. Right? By adding simple pleasures to your personal care routine each day and taking the time to enjoy them. An example is a lavender pillow. This little gem contains a small amount of lavender–an herb that is well-known for its relaxing properties. The eye pillow is gently heated in the microwave or cooled down in the freezer. Next, it is placed on the forehead or the sleep pillow is placed in the pillowcase. The lavender scent is thus inhaled and can help to greatly decrease stress. Another example is by turning your shower (or bath) into a spa-like experience. Simply by slowing down and noticing the scents already used in your daily care routine (scented soap, lotion, shampoo, etc.) a spa experience can be created. Another simple touch is to sprinkle a few drops of essential oil (lavender or citrus works well) on the shower floor. The heat and moisture helps to intensify the scent and a makeshift sauna is created. Simple, yet so effective. By using different essential oils, you can create different healing environments in the shower. (Peppermint can give you a boost mentally, for example.)
A favorite method of mine to reduce stress is by exercising. Walking is a free and simple method to help channel all of the excess energy that can surface as stress or anxiety. How about involving the kids or other family members in taking a walk or bicycling around the block? Or if and when the snow does arrive, how about building a snowman or finding a place to sled down a hill? Many of us who grew up in the 1970’s have memories of playing in the snow. Remember snowball fights? Or snow angels? The event could be topped off by having a cup of cocoa with marshmallows. Or create a new tradition if the temperatures stay moderate and introduce the kids to root beer or orange floats. (Remember, pouring the soda over a couple of scoops of ice cream in a glass?) Adding a squirt of whipped topping could be the crowning glory. Use your imagination…
New holiday traditions do not have to cost a lot of money. And they are not just for actors in the movies. With a little bit of creative thought, the holidays can be more enjoyable and memorable.
Below is a list of simple tips to help reduce stress during the holidays and throughout the new year.
1. Smile at those you meet. They say it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. : )
2. Help out someone who is less fortunate. Invite a neighbor to your house for dinner. Carol at a local nursing home. By focusing on others, you can see how lucky you and your family already are.
3. Hold the door open for others at a store or restaurant. ‘Pay it forward’ with a kind deed.
4. Take time to appreciate nature. Look up at the stars at night. Wander through a local park or schedule a trip to an outdoor light show. Many neighborhoods rally dazzle this time of the year!
5. Nurture a plant or adopt a pet. Plants can be grown indoors as well as outdoors and pet adoption agencies are always looking for loving pet parents.
6. Limit your time on social media sites like Facebook or time on your cell phone. Americans currently spend hours each day staying ‘connected’ yet frequently miss out on what is going on in their own homes.
7. Try to eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and limit your intake of sweets each day. (This will have additional health benefits and can help to increase your energy levels.)
As you can see, making the holidays (and everyday) less stressful and more enjoyable involves simple changes that anyone can do. Try the changes out for yourself. You might just start enjoying this and future holiday seasons.
Blessings for a peace-filled Christmas and New Year from The Simple Heart of Life!