Twelve Recommendations for a Stress-Free, Stay-Healthy Christmas
Ever notice that when you hear the word holidays, the words stress and sickness are not far behind? Flu and colds go through the roof during the holiday season, as does depression. We have gone from a season of "peace on earth good will toward men" to being at Target by 4:00 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving to fight 200 other shoppers in order to get the latest must have toy. And if we don't get everyone exactly what is on their list and make sure our home and dinner look like the latest picture in the December issue of House Beautiful then we have failed in the "Christmas Joy Department". What a journey over the last 200 years. We now find ourselves as some of the most stressed-out, unhealthy and depressed people at a time that was meant for just the opposite. No wonder this has become the most dreaded of all holidays.
With the following recommendations, I hope to start a trend toward the opposite end of the spectrum that we find ourselves in today. That is a holiday season that is stress-free, healthy and enjoyable for all—yes, it can be done!
It's a fact of life that we will experience stress, but how we handle it is important and completely in our control. While there is certainly "good stress", the body may have a difficult time in telling the difference between good and bad. The key to coping, particularly at holiday time, is knowing how to use stress (good and bad) to get energized and how to protect yourself so that you stay healthy in the process.
The following are some suggestions to incorporate in order to bring the holidays back into a place of anticipation, enjoyment and fullness:
1) Focus Christmas on the act of giving. Not endless lists of "wants". Shopping for that "perfect gift" gives even the most seasoned shopper a headache! Start a tradition of giving only one present per family member. Set a cost limit and encourage "gifts from the heart" and gifts that focus on service to other family members. Give gifts of time to your friends. A hand-made coupon for lunch or a movie with you will mean so much to your close friends.
2) Set a particular evening to put the tree up and decorate the house. Many families like to do this the day after Thanksgiving in order to enjoy the season for a longer period of time. Make a rule that every family member must help and contribute time. Have some healthy snacks on hand and some organic hot apple cider to sip on. Play bouncy and happy Christmas music throughout the house. If someone gets angry (untangling light strands is usually the culprit) then they must go to another room for ten minutes to calm down and deep breathe. Teach your family "how" to handle stress in a successful manner. Screaming or storming off is not acceptable or appropriate. Your children will thank you for this teaching when they are older. Once the house is decorated you will feel less stressful about everything else that needs to be done.
3) As soon as you decide on a gift, get it wrapped. Don't wait until the last minute to try to wrap twenty packages.
4) Make sure that you and your family are eating three healthy meals each day and two healthy snacks. No exception. Include a raw salad 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. Balance is the key.
5) Take a walk by yourself every single day. If you live where the sun is out frequently then try to get some sun on your arms and face. If you are not able to get adequate sunlight then use full-spectrum lighting and an effective Vitamin D3 product. Give this to your children also.
7) Diffuse essential oils throughout your home and car. A blend of 4 drops of pine; 4 drops of sweet orange and 4 drops of ginger will be up-lifting. You can also use this in your evening bath for some great stress relief. If a family member begins to feel ill, diffuse some eucalyptis oil, lavender oil and/or tea tree oil.
8) Make sure that everyone gets at least 8-10 hours of sleep every night. A healthy bedtime is 10:30 p.m. every night. Wear socks on feet in order to eliminate awakenings. Sleep in total darkness and incorporate air purification in each room. Air ionizers are best and will help with allergies and to cut down on sickness.
9) Plan an informal evening for Christmas caroling in your neighborhood. Invite each family to come along with you to the next house. Have hot chocolate available at the last house. The absolute best chocolate syrup is from Wilderness Family Naturals and is simply called Chocolate Syrup with Raw cacoa and agave nectar. No refined sugar is added and it is USDA organic!
10) Adopt a family. Buy groceries, warm clothing, shoes, toys, 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 them 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 Day. Involve your children and allow them to experience what true giving is all about.
11) Pick out several age-appropriate Christmas movies to watch as a family during the month of December. Provide organic popcorn, hot apple cider, healthy hot chocolate and blankets for a cozy family-time.
12) Limit the amount of parties, pageants and gatherings that your family will attend in December. Stress begins to mount when trying to participate in every activity or invited gathering. Learn to politely say "no thanks."
Remember that we will not have each other forever. Family differences, clashing personalities and past wrongs should be forgiven and forgotten. Learn the art of communicating about what's going on in everyone's life, their hopes and dreams. Try not to participate in "heavy" conversations that can become judgmental or hurtful. Give hugs freely. Enjoy Christmas day by including the whole family and extended family in the preparation of Christmas dinner.
Finally, plan some down time Christmas evening. Watching an old Christmas movie (that depicts times much simpler) in front of the fire with your loved ones will project a calming effect. Or just listening to a favorite Christmas CD in front of the fire with a nice cup of healthy coffee or healthy hot chocolate while discussing the events of the season not only makes memories but strengthens relationships.
Implementing some or all of the above suggestions can help you and your family to 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.