After all, you likely have several invitations to gatherings collecting on your counter, a long list of people you need to send holiday cards to, baking and decorating to do and the daunting task of braving the store crowds to find the gifts for your loved ones. All of this, on top of your normal every day life. It can be overwhelming to say the least.
I wanted to share with you some of my personal favorite ways to navigate this busy, stressful time of year and make this season a lot more enjoyable, less stressful and a time you will remember with fond memories.
These secret weapons of mine include…
Put forth great effort to be present. It can be difficult, I understand. It’s almost a reflex to pick up our phones and scroll through Facebook or our email when we have a free moment – do you do the same? One way I like to dodge this is to leave my electronics in another room. Don’t even allow yourself the temptation to pick up your phone and disengage from communicating with your gathered love ones.
I recently came across an image on Facebook that had a revised version of a Holiday Bucket List and I absolutely loved it!
- Buy Presents was marked through and in its place it said “Be Present”
- Wrap gifts was changed to “Wrap someone in a Hug”
- Send gifts was now “Send Love”
- Shop for Food was changed to “Donate Food”
- See the lights was now “Be the Light”
That image really stuck in my mind as I thought about all the things on my to do list to make the “Perfect Christmas” happen for my family. How can it be perfect if we are too stressed out to enjoy it. I saved the image as the lock screen on my phone as a reminder, and it has been a wonderful tool to use to dial in and be present.
Give up those expectations. A lot of the stress we put on ourselves this season lies in the notion that we expect things to be perfect. That’d be lovely, of course – but if you still have young children at home like me, then things are not going to be perfect. Someone will have a melt down when you are trying to do Holiday activities, the kids are going to fight in the middle of what you wanted to be a special moment, the bag of flour may get spilled while trying to bake Christmas cookies with your kids.
Dropping the expectations of perfection will allow you to be prepared for when something happens. There is joy to be found in each situation, so even when things don’t go exactly as planned – spend your energy finding gratitude in your circumstances and enjoying as much of your time as you possibly can. Tis the season!
Find time to move. It’s incredibly important to keep movement in your schedule, no matter how busy you may feel. Even if it’s just a brisk walk after lunch or dinner – make it a habit to bundle up and go for a walk alone to clear your mind, or with someone you enjoy being around.
Be sure that you are getting your time outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, while burning off some calories and keeping your heart rate up. We all know exercise releases endorphins and creates that happy feeling so why would we skip it when we need it most.
Don’t give up healthy eating for the Holidays. It is really easy to think “since I am having all these treats and attending all these parties and gatherings, I just can’t eat healthy”. We all plan to resume in January right? But eating a healthy diet is an important tool to combat stress. Healthy foods soothe us without draining our energy and give us the nutrients we need to boost our immune system. Stress combined with sugar overload can wreak havoc on our immune system and let’s face it….. nobody has time to be sick right now!
The key to sticking with a healthy diet year around is to make it a habit not matter what else is going on in your life. It’s fine to enjoy all of the tasty Holiday food, but make sure you also stick to the healthy habits you have been working on. Drink plenty of water, eat your vegetables, and don’t make every meal an excuse to splurge. Trust me, you will be glad you did when January 1st get’s here!
Focus on the Reason for the Season. It is so easy to get caught up in all the decorating, baking and presents, but making sure to stay focused on the true meaning of Christmas really helps me stay grounded in all the chaos.That may look different for everyone, but for my family Christmas is defined in the joy of giving to others, as God has given his only Son. We celebrate Christmas for what it is: the birth of Christ.
As you go through the upcoming days and prepare for Christmas, I hope you stop and take some time to really soak it up, to enjoy the time with your loved ones and make lasting memories. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas!!