The holiday season is upon us again, fa la la la la, la la la la.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”… but also it can be the most stressful.
Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it is the time when we reconnect with family and friends to celebrate the Season of Peace and Joy. The spirit of giving and receiving sets the tone for the occasion.
Your children are filled with excitement and expectation for new toys, smart phones, tablets and the latest technology and you just can’t disappoint them.
You want to please your children, but you also worry about overspending or that cutting back may diminish the reward of their priceless smiles.
And Moms…you carry the load for making everybody happy. You set the frenetic pace to get everything done and you are off and running.
You start with the endless decisions about what to get everyone on your ever-expanding holiday list. Then worry that you may have left someone out, or repeat what you gave them last year, if you can only remember what you gave them last year. The first sign of stress is when your memory blanks out.
Next comes all the shopping. Stores, crowds, lines, or hours glued to your computer to find the perfect gift. Rushing around to get it all done, you sit in traffic, often going nowhere. The second sign of stress is when your mind is racing a mile a minute and your trying to keep up with it. So you write everything down and then can’t find the list.
Then there’s the wrapping, baking, holiday activities and there’s always so much more to do and little time to do it. You can’t fight time and if you do…the third sign of stress is exhaustion.
Finally, though, there’s a moment to relax. That glass of wine might calm the savage beast and subdue the frenzy for a few minutes. You may even find that for a moment, you feel the spirit of the season when you hear the familiar refrain of, “ Sleep in heavenly peace”…then you realize you’ve had little to no sleep. The fourth sign of stress is inability to sleep.
It’s hard to remain peaceful or calm for very long because this season there’s a cloud of cynicism and fear hanging over our nation. The looming presence of hostility can sap your faith and make you feel vulnerable and unsafe. The fifth sign of stress is anxiety which starts in your tummy and makes you feel all the more tense and stressed-out.
And then there’s still that tree to decorate, a holiday dinner to prepare, cook, and serve… and then there’s the relatives. The sixth sign of stress is friction.
Next thing you know, your head is swirling, your heart is pounding, your blood pressure and adrenaline levels are through the roof. Then you begin to feel achy. The seventh sign of stress is a cold or flu symptoms.
When you do go to bed, your mind is spinning but not with sugar daddies dancing in your head. Yet with little to no rest, you get up the next day and keep running on empty.
Maxed out, stressed out, wound tight but still upright…barely. Your enthusiasm is drained and it becomes impossible to be in the moment or be at your best.
It is then that you realize that the real Grinch that steals your holiday spirit is STRESS.
The essence of the holidays is about presence — not presents.
But how do you manage to stay present, and to keep the spirit of peace and joy alive throughout the holidays?
SET THE TONE FOR YOURSELF
Before the holidays begin, get in the right frame of mind. How can you do that? Some ideas:
• Remove your supermom cape and keep it off. Ask for help!
• Determine to lighten the load and stick to it.
• Delegate and share the responsibilities with family and friends.
• Replace stressful driving, traffic and long lines by shopping online.
• Engage your whole family in decorating the tree and your home.
• Set a reasonable menu for your holiday dinner. You don’t need a turkey, ham, AND “roast beef!”
• Ask everyone joining you for dinner to bring side dishes and desserts.
TAKE TIME TO RELAX AND UNWIND
Throughout the holidays, it’s also essential that you take time out to relax, unwind and bring forth your very best. Some proven ways:
- Take a yoga class: stretch out rather than stress out.
- Exercise: Run, walk, swim, or go to the gym.
- Meditate: Ahh… guided Meditation calms the chattering mind, restores inner peace and allows you to come home to yourself. You’ll be more focused, energized and productive.
- Stop! Every time you begin to feel stressed, Stop! Breathe a slow, deep, full breath and exhale slowly. Do this several times.
SET THE TONE FOR BEING TOGETHER
Before gathering, visualize a celebration filled with love and laughter. And try these other ideas to help keep the peace, be joyful and remain positive:
• Celebrate the joy of being present as well as opening the presents.
• Play holiday background music and sing holiday songs together.
• Stay connected. Do not allow discussions of politics, negative news and “what’s wrong with the world” conversations.
• No cellphones, unless it’s a group call to loved ones who can’t be present.
• Be mindful that you don’t have to agree on everything to be kind to one another.
• Feel the love, express it and be grateful for having one another.
(My secret tip for laughs: hang lots of mistletoe and send all arguments there to be resolved!)
This holiday season, be the peace and the love seek. Count your blessings and send your joy into the world!
I invite you to experience a sample of my Deep Relaxation Meditation to help you remain calm and collected throughout the Holidays and everyday.
If you enjoyed this article, please click on the heart below. Happy Holidays!
One Light One Spirit
Originally published at medium.com