For those of you who celebrate Christmas, it’s just a few days away. Are you enjoying yourself or are you in a frenzy of last minute to-do’s? I certainly haven’t mastered a stress free holiday season at this point in my life. This year I planned a few things early but found myself constantly spinning my wheels. I realized as I waited in line for my kids to visit Santa I was thinking about the next thing I needed to get done instead of just being in the moment and enjoying this experience. For kids, visiting Santa is a huge deal and I was treating it like we were waiting in line at the grocery store. It was one of those moments that forced me to stop and enjoy.
When you live in the moment you get to experience the fun and joy of the holidays instead of turning it into a stressful event. Here are some ideas to stop the rush and find your holiday joy:
1. Stop and Breathe. Are you stressed you can’t find that last toy (shopkins…where are you?!) or do you have a difficult relative who’s comments get under your skin? When you feel that instant stress, take a moment and breathe for 30 seconds. Deep breathing is shown to lower cortisol levels and stop the stress response cycle. The best part of this technique is you can do it anywhere. Well…you may not want to do it right in front of that difficult relative, but you can go to the bathroom.
2. Have a cup of green tea. Green tea is always my go to strategy when I need to unravel. When you feel frenzied, stop. Just stop and have a cup of tea. Research suggests that theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, can inhibit the stress response and producing a calming affect. Even simply stopping and drinking a warm beverage may be enough to calm your mood.
3. Listen to music while you work. Instead of hiding in the bedroom frantically wrapping presents, get a hot beverage, throw on some Christmas music and wrap with meaning. You’ll find the experience more enjoyable and music is shown to help relax your mind and uplift your mood.
4. Go for a walk. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or even blue by the holidays get outside for a walk and fresh air. Exercise helps decrease stress hormones and increase serotonin to help change your mood. It also gives you time to sort through worrying thoughts.
5. Make a plan for next year. One of the big issues with the holidays is trying to get it all in; the baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, decorating, etc. Not giving yourself enough time to do these tasks turns something that should be enjoyable into something hectic and stressful. Shop early, say no, and ask for help are just some ways to save time. I love this list posted from real mom nutrition of ways to save time and cut stress during the holidays. Make a copy and keep it for next year. That’s what I’m doing!
If needed, use some of these strategies over the next few days because the holidays are a time to enjoy your family and friends, not a time to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
Meri Raffetto is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, triplet mom and author of the Glycemic Index Diet for Dummies and coauthor of the Glycemic Index Cookbook for Dummies, and Mediterranean Diet Cookbook for Dummies.