By Katy Cable — A 4 min. Read
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! While it is for some, it’s also the most stressful time of the year for many. Suicides and domestic violence skyrocket and everyone seems spread WAY too thin. Everyday I hear people do much more complaining about the holidays than actually enjoying them. It’s a shame the commercialization of Christmas has got us brainwashed. This time of year, far more people feel depressed and sad instead of loving and thankful.
As a “recovering” co-dependent I used to feel obligated to do everything and then guilty I didn’t do enough. I dreaded the holidays because I had enormous expectations for myself. It was up to “ME” (not Santa Claus) to make everyone’s holiday magical. I always did a pretty good job 😜 but every year I ended up angry, exhausted and sick.
Now I actually enjoy the holidays because I’ve learned how to do things entirely different. So here’s a few tips that have turned things around for me. I hope they help you enjoy a much merrier holiday season.
1. Self Care is the name of the game. Most women (especially moms and wives) don’t do anything for themselves until everyone else is OK. They put themselves last on the list. I’m giving you permission to put yourself FIRST. Nobody’s going to give you what you need or set your boundaries. In order to feel happy and joyful you simply must “Put Your Oxygen Mask On First!” Shut down and rest if you’re stressed or getting sick. Eat well. Get some fresh air and connect with those special people in your life that lift you up. Spoil your pet with an extra walk and watch how many people you talk to and how good you feel. Make a list of 5 things you’re going to do EACH day for self care! Fun little things that make you feel good and rejuvenate you.
⭐️I enjoy taking my pug Olive on a walk through the beautifully decorated canals in my town. All the homes and boats are so festive. It always puts me in good spirits and a place of gratitude. No canals or picturesque walking spots? How about taking a holiday drive through a pretty neighborhood. Blast that Christmas music and enjoy!
2. BE STILL AND BREATHE! If you’re like me you’re addicted to going, going, going! Sitting still and doing nothing is extremely uncomfortable. AND, all the more reason I need to do it. Sit your butt down for a few minutes and breathe. Go online and do a 5–10 minute guided meditation or just sit quiet and do your best to think calm, happy, beautiful thoughts. When your “to-do” list or negative thoughts crop in, immediately shut them off by thinking of something peaceful. I can hear it now, “That might be fine for you but it’s so hectic right now I don’t have a minute to breathe!”…Well, make 10 and watch what happens. I have enjoyed sitting in a bubble bath with candles and meditating in the warm, soothing water. Listening to the water fill up the tub is also very relaxing.
☯️Sometimes it’s just impossible to stop my busy mind. When this happens, I swim some laps and focus on the cold, blue water and my breathing. Another helpful thing is taking a gratitude walk and thinking about all the things I’m thankful for using every letter of the alphabet. Try this when you can’t fall asleep or you’re obsessing about something! (-Bonus points for getting 5 things for each letter!) Usually I’m out like a light before I get to the letter “X” but if not, that takes some serious thinking!
3. JUST SAY “NO!” All month long the invitations and obligations come pouring in so do yourself a favor and say “NO!” Trying to get healthy and not pack on 20 extra holiday pounds…Pass on the cookie swap. Would you rather have a root canal than sit through another painstaking production of The Nutcracker or holiday chorale show? –JUST SAY NO! Everyone’s busy and either they’ll understand or they’ll get over it. Doing things you have zero interest in will only build up stress and resentments. Now, in the true spirit of the holidays, there are some things that you should do. For instance, your niece landed the lead role of Clara in the Nutcracker this year and the entire family is going. But, there will certainly be many, MANY, other invitations you can pass on that aren’t a big deal. Especially hitting every holiday parade, show, and get-together. Watch the volunteering too! DO NOT take on the ENTIRE job of organizing the office holiday bash, and a million extra volunteer jobs that are time-zappers.
4.”YES PLEASE!” That’s right! Now that you’ve cleared your calendar, go crazy with things that are warm and fuzzy and FUN! Things that make your holidays MERRY! Start planning, inviting, organizing and doing a few of those! Love those holiday cookies, -host or attend a cookie swap. Is a favorite tradition hitting holiday sales at the mall or outlets until your feet bleed with blisters…go get those deals! Again, be honest about what is truly fun and not an obligation. Recharge those batteries doing a few things you love.
🎁One of my my favorite things to do is have my friends over a day or two after Christmas. Everyone comes in sweats or PJ’s with a “RE-GIFT” Each friend brings left-over holiday cookies and food and we drink lattes (or champagne) while catching up on holiday happenings. Sometimes we make vision boards by cutting inspiring photos and headlines out of magazines with our goals and dreams for the new year.
5. Surround yourself with DOGS! (Or cats, puppies, kittens, etc!) Seriously! Petting a dog actually makes the neurotransmitters in your brain go crazy. Oxytocin (a stress reducing hormone) is released and cortisone (nasty stress hormone) is reduced. Walking a dog is easy exercise. It forces you outside in the fresh air getting your heart pumping and your blood flowing. Dogs are filled with love. Any attention drives them bonkers. Hug a few dogs, talk to them, pet them, love on them and watch how you feel. Why not see if a rescue or shelter will let you foster one for the holidays. 😜
🐾BONUS: One of my favorite traditions is participating in Justin Rudd’s Operation Santa Paws. Right after Thanksgiving, collection bins for shelter pets are put out all around the community. The weekend before Christmas all the items collected are taken to a variety of shelters and given to all the pets. It’s such fun to see the joy on the faces of all the needy pets. It’s a magical day! How about starting this in your community? If you’re a pet lover it will make your holidays extra special.
‘Tis is the season do something kind! Buy someone a coffee! Tip ridiculously! Donate to needy kids. Be someone’s secret Santa. Low on funds…hold the door for someone, let the other driver take that prime parking spot. Offer to take someone’s “selfie” or just smile and give a genuine compliment. Doing kind things for others doesn’t have to cost a cent! It will make you feel wonderful! And you’ll be doing a kind deed during the holidays!
Wishing you a peaceful, STRESS-FREE and happy holiday season.
Originally published at www.weeklyrunt.com.