If you’re starting to FREAK out….

christmas-de-stressThis time of year seems to FREAK people out, right?

If you’re a mom, this is probably the time when you’re placing unrealistic demands on yourself such as get the house cleaned and decorated, get all the presents bought and wrapped without busting your budget, prepare to have family in or prepare to visit family members, attend Christmas gatherings, make the perfect holiday dinner, and on and on and on. And this is all on top of your regular responsibilities of running a household, homeschooling the children and the other work you do.

So, how do we handle the added stress of the obligations, the parties, the budget overload, the pressure to be everywhere and do everything for everyone that the holiday season brings?

The most important thing we can do is prioritize our own sanity. If you’re like me, you are probably the glue holding the whole holiday thing together for your family, so give yourself permission to take care of YOU so you don’t become “unglued.” Otherwise you will wind up stressing yourself out even more.

Prioritizing Your Sanity

Some of the ways you can prioritize your own sanity are to:

  • Build “resets” into your day. Every hour or so, close your eyes for at least 5 minutes and breathe deeply 10 to 20 times. Closing your eyes acts as a “reset” for your mind and breathing deeply oxygenates your system at a time when you’re probably taking shallow breaths because of the stress.
  • Do the Wonder Woman power pose—OFTEN. Studies have shown that just standing in a Wonder Woman power stance for two minutes can release positive hormones and reduce negative ones so you feel less stressed and more on top of your day. Take 2 minute breaks throughout your day and stand like Wonder Woman. In fact, you can combine your “resets” with power stances for maximum effect.
  • Drink lots of water. When you’re super busy, you may forget to keep yourself hydrated and this tends to make you fatigued and cranky. This also applies to not skipping meals and trying to eat as healthy as you can. You know you’re probably going to binge on sugar and junk food, so just go with the flow and try to counteract that by making sure you get enough water and decent food.
  • Set your intention for the day before the day begins. Ask yourself “What am I going to face today that might trip me up/stress me out?” and “How can I deal with it?”
  • Meditate twice a day. Two 10 – 20 minute meditation breaks throughout the day can work wonders. There are lots of free meditations on YouTube you can try, but a good all-purpose one is called the “Release” meditation. You can find it HERE.
  • Lower your expectations. The whole point of family get-togethers during the holidays is connection, not perfection. Accept that the people who have always gotten on each other’s nerves will probably continue to do so; the house is going to be messy; the food may not be as delicious as you’d hoped; you and your kids are going to eat way too much sugar and junk food; and everyone around you is probably stressed out too. So don’t expect everything to run smoothly or be as organized, happy, peaceful or rewarding as you’d hoped.
  • Rank the people in your life. Everyone has three sets of people in their lives—people from the past we were once close to but aren’t still super-connected with any more; maintenance people who we keep up with and occasionally contact, and priority people we are consistently engaged with and want to continue connecting with. The tendency is to try to remember everyone during the holidays, which is a good thing, but only if it doesn’t pull you away from the people who are the real priorities. Think about the level of attention you want to give to each set of people. People from the past may only need a mass email telling them you’re thinking about them and wish them a Happy Holiday. Maintenance people may need a handwritten note or Christmas card. But priority people deserve some sort of acknowledgement that they are your priorities whether it’s a gift, an invite to a meal, or some other expression that says to them, “You’re important and I want our connection to continue and grow.”
  • Be patient. Understand that almost everyone you meet will be stressed this time of year. Be allowing when people freak out or don’t live up to expectations. And don’t expect people who have never gotten along to magically put aside their differences just because it’s Christmas.
  • Try not to take things personally. Don’t take things personally or assign meaning when people aren’t their best selves towards you. Not many of us are our “best selves” during the holidays. If family members are picky, critical, complaining, resistant, unappreciative, argumentative, etc., it doesn’t necessarily mean anything about you. It probably means more about them. So what if they’re ungrateful and don’t like the Christmas present you spend hours making? It probably just means they’re cranky and have unrefined taste, not that there was anything wrong with you or your present.
  • Allow more time. There’s just so much to do and often not enough time to do it. Try not to stress yourself time-wise. Plan a cushion of time in everything you do. That way you won’t be overwhelmed when the traffic is horrendous, the turkey takes extra long to get done, the house is a mess and people are coming in 15 minutes, etc.
  • Find things to be grateful for. Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season. In spite of all the bustle and frustration and stress, there is a lot of beauty to the holiday season. There are stunning decorations; great Christmas carols to sing; amazing food to eat; times spent with people you love, and, while Christmas can bring out the worst in people, it can also bring out the best. Look for it and appreciate it.

As my Christmas present to you, I’ve prepared an ebook about Enjoying the Relatives during the holidays and you can download it by clicking HERE.

What are your favorite holiday stress-busters?

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