As one of my family member said during Thanksgiving dinner, “I’m thankful it’s over.” Now, this wasn't because of dry turkey, or because they don’t enjoy spending time with family, but because of the stress of cooking, coordinating family members, and cleaning it all up. Thanksgiving, in addition to Christmas and New Years, can be demanding, and, in effect, can place lots of stress on us, both physically and mentally.
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Still not convinced the stress is palpable? This year, like years before, has seen an increase in fights and trampling at local retail stores. In fact, several shoppers in Buffalo, NY were seriously injured after a “controlled mob” went to something “just…nasty.” That said, it seems prudent to offer a few tips to managing your holiday stress. So, put down the phone for a moment, take a deep breath, and have a good read.
Tip #1 – Remember, You’re On a Team
Probably the biggest source of stress for the holiday comes from the family. We want to be fair to our children, make everyone happy, and get all the right things. According to some, stress and anxiety actually point to someone really, sincerely caring about an issue. That said, it makes sense to get stressed about your family. However, remember that you are all still a family. Support each other, and don’t worry; there will be another Christmas, and you can never satisfy anyone 100 percent of the time.
What the take home message here? Yes, it’s important to please your family, but don’t expect to get everything right, all the time. Also, work together as a family to get what you need. Finally, be modest in your attempts. Who cares if you child didn’t get everything this holiday? They’ll get over it in a few weeks. We wouldn’t want to breed narcissism anyways!
Tip #2 – Shop Smart, Make a Humble List
Nowadays, with the ease of the internet, it may make more sense to buy most of your gifts online rather than stampeding into the local Best Buy. A great many companies offer deals on “cyber Monday” (the modern equivalent of Black Friday). Even though that was yesterday, there are still great deals. Try out Ebay, too. If you're looking for ideas, there are a bunch of great gift ideas here on OrganicSoul – most of them are cheap, many are interesting, and all are sure to please!
Also, tell your kids to make a modest list (sounds impossible, I know). Tell them to choose 3 presents – 1 large, 1 medium, and 1 small. They don’t have to worry, they could get more – but this will give you a better idea of what they really want.
Tip #3 – Eating Right, Staying Healthy
Even though the holidays are stressful doesn’t mean you can’t stay healthy. Make sure you’re following a well-rounded diet – plenty of fiber, carbohydrates, and vitamins and minerals. A huge part of managing stress is maintaining your body. But that’s only one side of the coin.
Try to go running every day (ever heard of barefoot running?); or, if you schedule doesn’t permit, do some private exercises in the bedroom (sit-ups, push-ups, in-place jogging). Even though this isn’t high intensity exercise, it helps to keep your body fit and is better than being sedentary all day. This prevents mental stress naturally, and prevents physical stress by supporting a strong immune system.
Tip #4 – Laugh and Keep a Positive Attitude
Perhaps most importantly, keep in mind why it is you’re putting yourself through this stress. Try to grab that same feeling my family member did post-Thanksgiving cooking. Sit back, pat yourself on the back, and be grateful. Devoting all your time and energy toward one’s family is certainly noble and commendable thing. Good job, you!
Hopefully, after reading that you have a smile on your face. If not, put one on! One great way manage stress is to laugh. Just laugh! Rent a funny movie, watch it with the family or loved one, and try to have a good time. It will take you off edge, reduce stress related hormones like cortisol, and it will increase your amount of good-feeling endorphins. Laughter IS the best medicine.
Tip #5 – Get Some Rest
Finally, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, there are ways to beat insomnia. Sleep is the best thing for our brains and bodies, and we need it just as much as we need oxygen or water. If you’re feeling stressed, get to bed early tonight (maybe try to dose off during your funny movie). Getting enough sleep helps us stay healthier longer anyways, so regardless of the time of year, make sure you’re getting enough.
I hope these tips serve as helpful reminders for everyone as to why is it we are so stressed out anyways. If you inverse many of these tips, you'll find your stressors – feeling alone, being disorganized, not maintaining your health, being negative, and missing sleep – all of which should be remedied right away. Good luck with the holidays, and don’t stress yourself out!