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The holidays are approaching, how do I manage the stress that it can bring?

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

Growing up, I remember always looking forward to the holidays. The sparkling lights, the music, cheerful hearts, good food and all the gifts that come with the holidays. These were some of the things that were always at the top of my head during the months leading to the holidays. Stress was not one of them! fast forward a decade, and adult me was anticipating the dreaded deadlines, rush, and never ending invitations. How did I end up here?! I would ask myself year after year. My problem was I did not know how to prioritize, and by that I mean, take care of myself and my mental health. Stress is a major contributing factor to chronic diseases, be that mental or physical. The holidays can add more to our plates that what we already have. As I reflect and look back I feel compassion for younger me. I was just trying to survive and at the same time make everyone happy, I did not know better. Some of the things I learned along the way was that I needed to put myself first, not the holidays, not the jolly gatherings, or friends and family, not the food, but me. So I learned to say no and not to commit to things I did not truly felt in my heart or that I couldn't do (old me would try hard to make things happen even if I could not). So after all this reflection, I came up with five things that have helped me enjoy the holidays again! number 1, learn to say no! if you really can't bring that lasagna for your holiday gathering, please don't commit to it, say no. Maybe you can bring something easier like a salad (I'm the salad lady). If you can't stay up late because you are tired, don't! excuse yourself and leave early. This leads me to the next step, prioritize sleep! cooking all day, and shopping for gifts, and all those gatherings can be exhausting and a lack of sleep can lead to higher stress levels and can leave you unable to cope with the challenges of the next day. Please get your beauty sleep. Third, stay in the present moment! this one is better said than done as it can be challenging with all the responsibilities. If you can manage to focus in the now, even if that now is not pleasant(you might be cleaning and running to the store back and forth like a headless chicken), through asking yourself what are you doing, or what do you see, you might be able to bring yourself to the present moment. If that fails, try taking a couple of deep breaths, making the exhale longer than the inhale, to let go a bit of the tension and focus on he breath to bring you back to the now. That can help. Tip number 4, add some form of exercise to your day, even if it is a short walk around your neighborhood. Exercise can work wonders in your nervous system! It can help you release some of that stress. Last, but not least, remember the holidays are a moment to connect with others, to share memories, to laugh, to cry, to love, but most of all, it can be a time to connect with that child that anticipated and loved the holidays, that child still lives inside of you! The chores will be there, the responsibilities will be there, the stress will be there, but the holidays only come once a year, so let your hair down a bit, don't stress, and enjoy!

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