Tuesday, November 29, 2005

5 Steps for Reducing Holiday Stress

You know what it is like to gather with the family and friends during the holidays. Sometimes these gatherings can be joyful, exciting and pleasant. Other times they can be filled with expectations, family obligations and stress. Add to that stress, the pressure of holiday baking, gift buying and wrapping, travel arrangements and decorating, and you have multiple layers of tension.

Here are 5 great steps you can easily do to reduce your stress during the holidays, saving hours of headaches, tense muscles and family tension:
  • Clean early. Schedule time ahead to get the house cleaned and organized. Prepare space for any company you may be hosting and organize your kitchen for baking.
  • Make lists. Take the time to write out a list for each family member and their role in the holiday plans. When everyone has their own clear list of tasks, tension is reduced. List the holiday shopping, the baking schedule, the calendar of events, etc. Pre-planning will save hours of stress and tension that happens when things sneak up on you.
  • Rest. Take little ‘time-outs’ for yourself during the day. If you have a hectic day of shopping planned, schedule break times for a cup of tea, a bite to eat and time to rest your feet. If you’re spending the day cleaning, baking or wrapping, plan 10 minute power naps in between. It will add to your productivity and you’ll feel more energized to complete the tasks more quickly.
  • Give and Receive. The holidays are about giving and you’ll spend time shopping and giving to others, but make sure you spend time receiving and accepting gifts, compliments, love, etc from others. Receiving replenishes your supply of energy. Always giving to others can leave you feeling empty and drained, therefore more susceptible to stress.
  • Eat healthy and exercise. Just because the holidays include sweet treats, it doesn’t mean you should fill up on them. Sugar increases your stress level. Your body needs a balanced diet of healthy food and regular exercise. If you find yourself drinking more caffeine, staying up late or spending too much time online shopping, then you’re not getting enough exercise or drinking enough water. Your body is feeling the tension and is responding with stress-oriented messages.

The one thing to remember is to focus on your goal of enjoying the holidays and allowing it to be a peaceful season filled with laughter and love. Remember to breathe, relax and loosen up. Let go of any expectations of a ‘perfect’ holiday. Going with the flow and ‘allowing’ spontaneity will lead to less stress and more joy. The holidays are a great opportunity to gather together and share. Just remember to share the good stuff- not the stress!

© 2005 Jodie Foster

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