Relieving Holiday Stress

Thanksgiving has passed; our bellies are full of turkey and our hearts are full of love. The snow has begun to fall, and the crisp smell of winter is in the air. It’s official: the holidays are upon us. For many, this season brings about feelings of warmth, joy, and nostalgia. We remember fond childhood memories and work hard to re-create those same fuzzy feels for our own children. Sometimes, however, the holiday season can also be a time of stress, loneliness, and depression.

In our recollections of cherished childhood memories, we may also feel the sharp pang of loss, as we grieve for those who are no longer with us. Maybe we are dealing with toxic relationships that tend to rear their ugly heads around this time of year. Or, perhaps in our desire to create the perfect magical holiday for our children, we run ourselves ragged with exhaustion and stress. Whatever the reason may be, the holidays can also be a difficult time for many people. Luckily, there are things we can do to make them a little easier to get through, so that we can feel a little more of the holiday joy.

Be Kind to Yourself
Remember that analogy of being on an airplane and putting your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else? Keep that analogy in your mind over the holidays, and find time to put your own oxygen mask on. You can’t help others if you are running on empty, but let’s face it, moms carry a lot of the mental load – especially around the holidays. Organizing and attending all of the seasonal social events, buying and wrapping gifts, getting the house decorated and cleaned for guests, the list goes on and on.

In the hustle and bustle, be sure to carve out some time for yourself. Allow for breaks and downtime, where you can just relax and breathe. Stop at your favourite coffee shop and enjoy a quiet latte for 10 minutes before continuing about your day. Grab a babysitter during the week for a couple of hours so you and your spouse can spend a peaceful dinner out together – nothing fancy, just a break from the chaos. Just take care of yourself, you are important.

Moms often find this time of year very overwhelming and stressful.

Prioritize and Delegate
Panicked because you still have to finish buying presents, mail your Christmas cards, attend the school holiday concert, pick up the turkey, wrap the gifts, and bake the cookies you promised your daughter you’d make together? Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It doesn’t all have to be accomplished today, and you can ask others for help with it all.

Ask your spouse to mail the Christmas cards and pick up the turkey, plan for the two of you to wrap a few presents each night during the week until they’re done, and find a quick and easy cookie recipe that won’t take forever to put together. Then, stop for the day and go enjoy the school holiday concert, that’s enough for one day.

Limit Your Exposure to Toxic People
There’s no doubt about it, every family at one time or another has had their share of differences. If you can, choose to spend your holidays surrounded by those who make you feel happy and relaxed, not those who stress you out or cause drama.

Now, some people may be unavoidable, and you might get stuck visiting them over the holidays, but try to keep it brief. If there are certain people that you find particularly stressful to be around, limit your exposure and keep the visit short. Try to set aside your differences for the evening, and then treat yourself to a little something afterward – a chocolate goodie, glass of wine, or a bubble bath – for getting through it unscathed.

Don’t Abandon Healthy Habits
It is during this time of year that many healthy habits, such as eating well and exercising, tend to go out the window. We are extra busy and there are many more temptations when it comes to food and drinks – holiday parties, cocktails, dinners out, and so on. It becomes harder to eat healthy, and as a result of consuming so many empty, sugary calories, we are left feeling bloated, sluggish, and unhealthy. Indulge in the festivities (of course!), but work to incorporate healthy eating as often as you can.

With the shorter days and busy schedules, we also find it harder to remain active during the day. The benefits of exercise, however, are that we have increased energy and elevated moods, which in turns helps us to manage the holiday stress that much easier. So, get out for a walk on your lunch break, or play outside in the snow with your kids. Whenever you can, try to stay active.

Be Realistic
The holidays can be tough, and we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make it just perfect. Instead this year, keep things realistic and don’t break the bank trying to provide the best possible Christmas for your kids. The greatest gift you can give them is your time and your love; despite the mile-long Santa list they wrote, this is honestly the thing they want most.

Despite your best efforts, things might also not go as planned for the holidays, and that’s ok. Life changes, people change, and sometimes traditions have to change too. Even though it may not be the way you wanted or pictured, be grateful for the little things, accept the differences, and be open to new traditions.

Focus on the True Meaning of the Holiday Season
No matter what your belief system is, what religion you follow, or what traditional holiday you celebrate this time of year, there is one common theme throughout all beliefs, and that is one of love. This time of year, it is all about love, family, generosity, and kindness.

Spend time with those who matter most to you, and be grateful for the memories you create together. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself time to rest, relax, and reflect. Think of others, and spend some of your time giving back or doing some random acts of kindness when you can. Above all else, focus on spreading love and cheer to others, and be sure to save a little of it for yourself too!

From one Mom to another, happy holidays! May the joy of the season surround you.