Minimize Holiday Stress
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Here are some tips from Tracy-Lynn, our Naturopathic Doctor for minimizing holiday stress.
I have to confess – I have always loved Christmas. I turn into a four year old. When I was asked to do up some tips for staying stress free during the holidays, it hit me that they really do cause us a lot of stress don’t they? Why is that?? As adults, it seems that the holidays turn into stress and for many result often in depression. We stress over the gifts, the food, the house, the guests, the decorations, the lights the X-box and the newest Elmo doll. Everyone seems to be running around with blinders on and a sense of extreme urgency.
If we think back, what we remember about the holidays is the experience of it. The smells, the sounds, the smiles, the time shared. One year to make extra money, my dad went out and collected pine cones for reforestation projects, they paid you a few dollars a garbage bag. We went out with him a couple of times, bought some marshmallows and brought a picnic, dressed warm and drove out to the bush. I don’t remember a single thing I got that year for Christmas with that money my parent’s worked so hard for. But I do remember the trips to the forest, the smells and the songs.
Before I list off a few helpful tips for reducing holiday stress, I want to share a little exercise you might want to try. This evening, take 10 minutes and make yourself a cup of your favourite tea. Sit for a moment and sip your tea and come up with a few ideas that are your “why”. My Christmas “why” is my family, especially my mom and my two young children. The next time you find yourself running around the grocery store or Target (or better yet your local merchants!), take a very deep breath and remember your why. Remember that in a year or two, no one will remember if your house was spotless or they got that new toy that everyone has to have or the turkey was a bit dry. But they will remember singing songs, going for drives to look at the lights, hot chocolate, playing games. Keep what really matters this holiday season close to your heart!
Here are a few more practical tips!
1) Keep your “why” close. It might sound cliche, but remember what the holidays are really about! Spending time on experiences is what brings lasting holiday joy, not material things.
2) Its ok to have boundaries and limits. In fact, its imperative! Things don’t need to be perfect and you don’t have to attend every event you are invited to. Its okay if you didn’t get the Christmas cards out on time, I promise! Try to attend events that bring you joy. Its okay to politely decline.
3) Seek out support if you need it. The holidays are tough for many of us. They can often bring up grief, loneliness and depression. If you need help, seek out a friend or a professional. Many people experience tough emotions at this time of year. Remember you are never alone.
4) Don’t totally throw healthy habits out the window! We all like to indulge this time of year so go ahead and give yourself permission now (and don’t take it back later on!!) A few tips: Try to limit your sugar as it can really depress your immune system and no one wants to be sick this time of year. If you are going to indulge, pair sugary foods (and this includes alcohol) with some protein and healthy fats (nuts are a great choice and often available at social gatherings. If not, throw some in your purse!) This will help to balance out your blood sugar and lessen the impact. Drinking water will also help to keep your calorie intake at a reasonable level.
5) Recognize when you need a time out and take it! Try to pay attention to your body. If you are starting to feel anxiety, panic or stress try doing a simple breathing exercise such as taking 10 deep breaths. If you have time, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure. Another favorite way of mine to calm down is sitting with a nice tea and a bit of quiet. This time of year with so much stimulation around, choose calming teas such as chamomile, lemonbalm or licorice. If you feel like you have a cold coming, add in some ginger, honey and lemon.
I also believe part of the stress of this time of year comes with a drastic change in our routine combined with a sense of pressure. Building stress coping techniques into your daily life all year is the best way to prevent the holiday season from overwhelming us. If this sounds like something you would like to explore, come into Creekside Wellness in the New Year and we can begin building those habits together! But for now, go out and enjoy yourself this holiday season! Drink lots of water, remember what really matters and what makes memories in the end.
All the best to you and yours this holiday season!!