Battling The Stress of the Holidays

Battling the crowds, scheduling family gatherings, Christmas parties, budgeting for gifts, meals or outings, school concerts, and church commitments are just some of the added stressors that bombard us during the holidays.

When you add those to any unresolved grief, relationship break ups, familial disagreements, or major life changes, it can be one of the most stressful and difficult times of the year.

One of the best ways to manage the hustle and bustle of the season is to make a conscious effort to making peace of mind a priority. We have to remind ourselves to slow down and relax inside by accepting that everything will happen as it is supposed to.  Breathe deeply, slowly.

The standard advice of getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy food and exercising goes – almost – without saying.

Don’t worry so much about making sure everything is perfect.  Life is too short to worry that all the decorations are up to snuff or the turkey is fit for a five star restaurant.  Short of poisoning everyone, if you’re serving up a meal, most people will just be grateful they didn’t have to cook – at least that’s my hope this year since I’m hosting Christmas dinner.
These things are pretty standard for combating stress, but what about learning to say “no”?

One of the most liberating words I’ve learned to say lately is “no”.

James and I are the type of people, as I suspect a lot of us are, who feel compelled to do whatever we can that is within our sphere of influence for friends and family who need it.   We’re not good at saying “no”, nor do we want to.  We take great pleasure from those around us.

But as my time is more and more at a premium this season there have been occasions when I’ve had no choice but to say no – for us and for the kids.  What has amazed me is how relieved I feel each time I say it.  I didn’t realize that just thinking about squeezing more into my schedule, spending more money, or giving more of myself was causing such stress.

On average, we have 3-5 scheduled items on the calendar each and every day in addition to work and school.  Trying to keep it all straight is near impossible, but with the Christmas season balancing precariously on top, something has to give – probably our health and happiness.

With that said, I’m vowing to only commit to a limited number of engagements this year.  If by the summer, I’ve turned a brief reprieve into a full on hibernation from all social interaction, then, I will know that I have worked on that word “no” long enough, and it might be time to say “yes” now and again.

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