I have always loved the Christmas season. However, I must admit there have been Christmases where I found myself becoming more and more stressed and even a bit anxious. A stress-free Christmas doesn’t just happen. Being proactive by making time for your health, both physically and emotionally, is very important. If you can relate, don’t stop reading. Over the years I’ve come up with 12 easy tips for a stress-free Christmas and I want to take some time to share them with you.
Whether you are young or old, most of us look forward to the Christmas holidays. However, many of the things we enthusiastically anticipate often become big-time stressors. In fact, an estimated 80 percent of Americans presume they will feel stressed during the holidays.
DID YOU KNOW? People who experience constant stress are much more susceptible to viral infections like the flu and common cold.
Illness, Holiday Perfection Syndrome, Stress
Unfortunately, the holiday season seemingly brings on illnesses such as flu and colds and even depression for a tremendous amount of people. This makes even the concept of a “stress-free Christmas” seem unattainable. In fact, many families actually expect to have some type of illness going on during the Christmas season. However, experiencing illnesses such as the flu and common cold during the month of December is usually a result of unhealthy eating (too much sugar), less sleep, high expectations (constant stress), being around a lot of people in confined quarters (shopping, parties, church activities, etc.) and limited sunshine – all of which can bring your immune system down. And what parent hasn’t diligently prayed that everyone in the family would stay well during the holidays?
Unfortunately, many of us suffer from or exhibit symptoms of the holiday-perfection-syndrome. You might know what I mean or even have experienced this holiday syndrome. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree (perfectly), decorating the house (perfectly), planning a Christmas get-together (perfectly) as well as a Christmas dinner (perfectly) that resembles those beautiful Christmas tablescapes on Pinterest or in home decorating magazines — all of which can push our stress thermometer extremely high.
What a path we humans have trod in the last 200 years going from Christmas simple to what our grandparents might call Christmas ridiculous. We find ourselves as some of the most stressed-out, unhealthy and depressed people at a time of the year meant for just the opposite. It’s no wonder many people say the holiday season has become their most dreaded time of the year.
Yes, stress happens, but how we handle and process stress becomes very important to both our physical and emotional health. While there is certainly “good stress”, your body may have a difficult time in always telling the difference between good stress and bad stress, especially during the holiday season. You can find the key to eliminating the harmful side effects of any type of stress (particularly during the holidays) in planning ahead, preparation, setting certain limits and just getting back to simplicity and the real reason for the season.
The following Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas are some tips I have found over the years that can help in making a less-stress Christmas season. Although all of these tips may not fit your family, some may help to solve or at least ease some of your holiday stress. In the long run, the most important take away is that when we manage our stress levels, we can begin the journey to find our way back to what the Christmas Season represents — the birth of God’s Son, inspiration peace, family, joy, warmth, and good-will to all people.
12 Easy Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas
1) Focus on the act of mindful giving – not endless lists of “things”.
Shopping from a seemingly long gift list can give even the most seasoned shopper a sense of desperation. How about trying some new approaches this year. Start a tradition of limiting the amount of gifts per family member. Some families find that setting a limit of three gifts per child which include one clothing outfit, one toy, and one book works extremely well. Setting price limits and encouraging gifts-from-the-heart including gifts that focus on service to other family members (this works great for siblings) works well for children. Give gifts of time to your friends and even your children. A hand-designed coupon for lunch or a movie “on your dime” can mean so much to your close friends and your children. Gifts of a movie date with Mom or Dad will delight even the most finicky child.
2) Be in the moment.
Set a particular evening to decorate your tree and your home. Make a rule (yes, rules are okay) that every family member must help and contribute their time. Prepare healthy snacks and organic hot apple cider to sip on. Turn on some bouncy and happy Christmas music throughout the house. If someone gets stressed (untangling light strands is usually the culprit) then help them take a short break to calm down. Teach your family “how” to handle stress in a successful manner and that screaming or storming off is unacceptable and inappropriate at any time of the year. Your children and their spouses will thank you for this when they are older and have their own families. Once your home is decorated, you will feel less stressful about everything else that needs to get done.
3) Shop for and wrap presents early.
Try not to put shopping and gift wrapping off until the last-minute. I can say, from personal experience, that waiting until the last-minute is a recipe for stress and that bah-humbug feeling. Purchase gifts as soon as you are able and wrap them as soon as possible. Make sure you have the correct size of batteries on-hand. Wrapping presents and trying to find batteries for toys on December 24th is the perfect recipe for stress.
4) Healthy diet.
Make sure you and your family are eating three healthy meals and two healthy snacks every day. Include a raw salad with your meals at lunch and dinner. Keep a bowl of in-season fruit on the counter or in the fridge. Go easy on sugar, dairy and processed foods. Drink lots of purified water to keep your body hydrated and toxins flushed out. Skip the seconds. It’s a good idea to prepare healthy meals at home rather than rely on fast foods. Prepare dishes that are healthful, like this hearty and healthy chicken-vegetable soup. When you feel anxious, try the stress-relieving foods below. Yes, by all means, enjoy the delicious food of the season, but remember that balance is the key.
5) Take a walk by yourself every day.
A daily walk in nature can help you clear your mind as well as provide much-needed exercise. If you live where sunshine is abundant, try to get some sun on your arms and face every day. If you’re not able to get adequate sunlight then use full-spectrum lighting in your home and take a good quality Vitamin D3 supplement. I recommend Suntrex D3.
6) Don’t skimp on your daily supplements.
The supplements are important and even more so during the holiday season. Try to include the following supplements every day: an organic multi-vitamin/mineral complex; coconut oil, probiotics and Vitamin D3. Our family uses the following products: intraMax; Floratrex; unrefined coconut oil or MCT oil and Suntrex D3. Including a daily dose of Vitamin C will boost your immune system and help lower stress. If possible, incorporate a green smoothie into your diet every morning.
Our family likes and uses the Air Oil Aromatherapy Diffuser . This aromatherapy does not use water nor does it heat the essential oils. An up-lifting essential oil blend for Christmas is 4 drops of pine; 4 drops of sweet orange and 4 drops of ginger. This blend can also be used in your evening bath for some great stress relief. If a family member begins to show symptoms of illness, diffuse some eucalyptus oil, lemon oil, lavender oil or tea tree oil in their bedroom at night.
8) Sleep is paramount.
An adult bedtime that promotes good health is 10:00 p.m. every night — even on the weekends. Your body does the most healing and repair work during sleep. When you are exhausted, everything becomes more difficult — especially controlling your emotions. There are many health concerns caused by sleep deprivation. Other suggestions for getting a good night’s sleep are: (1) Wearing socks on your feet during sleep is said to help eliminate awakenings. (2) Sleep in total darkness and incorporate air purification in each room. (3) Air ionizers are very effective and can help with allergies, molds, and even illness.
9) Promote the Christmas Spirit.
There are many activities that can help promote the Christmas spirit. To further the Christmas spirit, plan an informal evening of Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. Invite each family to come along with you to the next house. Provide healthy hot chocolate or hot apple cider at the last home (make arrangements) or invite everyone to your home. There are many recipes hot chocolate and hot apple cider on the Internet.
10) Adopt a family.
In the spirit of giving, instead of getting, adopt a family for Christmas. Purchase groceries, clothing, shoes, toys, gift certificates, a Christmas tree, telephone calling cards, etc. Also, if funds permit, offer to pay for a month or two of electricity, heating fuel, gas. etc. After the holidays, continue to gift your adopted family by leaving a bag of groceries by the front door every so often. Invite your adopted family to go with your family to church services, caroling or to a Christmas pageant. Invite a college student, who cannot afford to go home, over for Christmas Day. Invite an elderly or single person, who is alone, over for Christmas dinner. Involve your children and allow them to experience what true giving is all about.
11) Relax with Christmas movie and book nights.
In October or November, pick out several age-appropriate Christmas movies and Christmas books to watch and read as a family during the month of December. Prepare some healthy snacks, light the fireplace, put on your pajamas, and get out the blankets for some cozy family time. This type of activity is what Christmas memories are made of.
12) Learn to say no thanks.
While learning to say no thanks can be difficult, once it’s mastered you will find that your stress levels go down. Limit the amount of parties, pageants and gatherings that your family will attend in December. Stress can mount quickly when you or family members try to participate in every activity or gathering in which you are invited. Learn to politely say “no thanks.”
BONUS: Family Gatherings.
Family is very important and we will not have each other forever. Family differences, clashing personalities and past wrongs should be forgiven, forgotten and or set-aside. Practice the art of listening. Talk about what’s going on in each others lives as well as successes, hopes and dreams. Try not to participate in “heavy” conversations that can become judgmental or hurtful. Give hugs freely. Smile and laugh and be kind. Enjoy Christmas day by including the whole family in the preparation of Christmas dinner. How about some board/card games or a friendly game of touch-football for the afternoon hours? Don’t forget to take some great pictures, but don’t be consumed by getting “the right” picture every time, unless you were hired to do so.
Plan some After-Christmas down time.
Finally, plan some special down-time Christmas evening to unwind from the festivities. Watching an old Christmas movie (depicting simpler times) in front of the fire with your loved ones will have a calming effect. Diffuse some calming essential oils. Or put on a favorite Christmas CD, sit in front of the fire with a cup of organic coffee or hot tea and discuss the events of the season and look at the pictures family members took. This makes for sweet memories and strengthens relationships.
Remember the Reason For The Season
The Christmas holiday season is a time of celebration. Spend your Christmas holidays wisely by relaxing and enjoying your family and friends. Implementing some of the Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas can help you and your family enjoy a memorable stress-free and healthy Christmas season and hopefully turn hearts back toward a season of not only peace on earth, good will toward men, but also a season of peace and happiness in our hearts, home and family.
I have always loved the season of Christmas and I hope you do, as well.
From myself and everyone at Oasis Advanced Wellness, Merry Christmas!!
References and Research
“Tips for parents on managing holiday stress.” American Psychological Association. Nov. 2012. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
“Fact Sheet on Stress.” National Institute of Mental Health. n.d. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
Gibbons, Gary H. “Why is Sleep Important?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. 19 Aug. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
“This Holiday Season, Eat Mindful, Not Mindless.” American Heart Association. Sept. 2016. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.
Bratman, Gregory N, et al. “Nature Experience Reduces Rumination and Subgenual Prefrontal Cortex Activation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112.28 (2015): 8567–8572. Web. 23 Nov. 2016.