“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” or so Andy Williams would have us believe in that much loved Christmas carol, at least it is supposed to be, so what simple things can we do to make sure the sentiments from this legendary Christmas song actually become our reality? I want to experience Christmas this year without all of the frantic stress and tension that so often come along with this holiday and rob me of the “spirit of the season” leave me feeling jaded instead of jolly. We assembled some tips for reducing stress that don’t require any unrealistic commitments of your time, which there already is not enough of, but rather can be incorporated into the to do list you already have attached to your schedule.
1. Take Time For A Simple Act Of Kindness
While you are rushing around finishing up last minute details, stop and open a door for someone, bring back coffee for a co-worker or spouse, let someone who looks “really stressed” go ahead of you in line. These are simple things that studies show actually reduce your stress level.
2. Take In The Sights, Sounds and Smells Of The Season
Instead of stressing out over getting that last parking spot close to the door, intentionally park far away; use this as an opportunity to get some fresh air and exercise, relish the invigoration of the crisp winter air as it touches your cheeks, listen to the enchanting sound of the salvation army santa’s bells or christmas music surrounding you, observe the beauty of the decorated lampposts and sparkling lights. Breathe in the smell of fresh pine trees as you pass by the Christmas tree lots. Being mindful of and enjoying your surroundings immediately lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress.
3. Wrap It Up
Make gift wrapping an event. Plan a movie excursion for hubby and kids, make yourself your favorite beverage; hot chocolate, tea, coffee with a little baileys maybe, put on your favorite holiday music, sit by the fire, have all of your wrapping tools out and organized and enjoy wrapping each gift with attention to detail. This time to focus on one task will put your mind at rest and the tension of the day will just melt away.
4. Take Note
Pick a handful of people who have had a special impact on your life this year and take a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to actually write them a personal thank you note/Christmas Greeting expressing how they blessed your life in 2016. Expressing gratitude makes you feel mentally stronger and reduces frustration and irritability.
5. Establish New Traditions That Suit Your Lifestyle
Most of the stress we experience in our lives is tied into expectations we are striving to live up to. A belief that events SHOULD be executed in a certain way. Forget the should surrounding where you should go, what you should do, how you should celebrate, who you should get a gift for; lose the expectations you normally place on yourself and instead be open to establishing new traditions that fit into the lifestyle of you and your family. This time of year is all about enjoying and sharing with the ones we love; instead of the full Christmas dinner perhaps a tapas style presentation of a few simple hot hor d’oueves & cocktails or soup and salad bar would be just as fun and give everyone a chance to mill around visit and enjoy one another instead of being relegated to an assigned seat at the table. Agree to just one gift per person, draw names. Decorate a tree outside in the yard with lights and ornaments instead of making a mess inside. Celebrate with different parts of the family different days or host an open house where people can drop by whenever they have time. Participate in a santa run for charity which will eliminate any arguments over whose house you have to visit at what time.
Remember to live in the moment. Don’t miss the magic of the season, embrace the additional to do’s and events it added to your schedule as a welcome change, step out of the mundane for awhile, find that spark of childhood wonder where the world is full of hope, excitement, and all things good.