The holidays are stressful.
Stringing together multiple, jam-packed, joyful days in a couple months tests your mental and emotional strength, especially when you are fixated on every minor detail. Your inner monologue says “Christmas cards need to be delivered, the pie crusts should be flakier, and I have to frost the sugar cookies.”
Inevitably, something can and will go wrong, bursting your opportunity to Instagram your picture-perfect holiday feast or film your third-grader’s solo in the school pageant. Your daughter tears her dress the morning of Thanksgiving, you burned the Tofurky, or you’re stranded at the airport with thousands of holiday travelers during a Christmas Eve snowstorm.
Opportunities for something to go askew are endless—causing stress and anxiety. These are valid stressors that can cause mental or emotional breakdowns during the holidays.
Now that you’ve considered what could go terribly wrong, recognize that your control is limited and opt for sanity. Step back from stringing up the Christmas lights and breathe. Managing emotions and anxiety will make the season more enjoyable for you and your loved ones.
Holidays are about celebrating who and what we have in our lives that bring us joy, whether it’s family, religion or a good job—and food of course! These tips from Adventist Health will help you manage your stress during the season’s chaos.
Take it one task at a time. Focus on getting the green beans, yams and cranberry sauce into the shopping cart, not the messy house waiting to be cleaned. A clear mind for the task at hand will help you with time management.
Avoid overspending. Holidays are about time with loved ones, not exorbitant gifts you can’t afford. You’ll be thankful and less stressed when your credit card bill arrives. Lay out a detailed timeline and budget, prioritizing what’s most important to your family. Instead of buying gifts, start a family tradition, like attending Portland’s holiday parade.
Be charitable. And you don’t have to give money—it could be time. Purchasing a gift for a child in need or volunteering at your local food bank is extremely fulfilling. Shop or volunteer as a family to boost holiday cheer for someone less fortunate, while learning to appreciate what you have.
Limit your kids’ schedules. Even kids have busy holiday schedules, with basketball practice, seeing “The Nutcracker” and playing Secret Santa at school. Together, compromise and select the most important activities to prevent running all around town during the busy season.
Stick to your health goals. Indulge a little during the holidays, but maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. Choose low-sodium and reduced-fat dairy products for holiday cooking and baking. Cauliflower mashed potatoes and apple cider gravy are healthier alternatives for classic dishes. Hit the gym with a friend, take walks during the lunch hour and avoid overeating.
Be realistic and have fun. Know your limitations and realize things may not go as planned. Brush off the small stuff and take a break to go sledding with the kids or decorate gingerbread houses.
Author: LivingWell PDX Blog
Adventist Health is committed to creating a healthier Portland community.