Long shopping lines. Excruciating traffic lines. Low funds and on a tight budget, and guess what? It’s the Christmas Season! Oh yes… the sweet holidays baby! Deemed to be that one special time of the year to be cheerful, to be jolly, to eat that special food you don’t usually eat throughout the year and to spend every waking moment with awesome friends and your loving family.
Not to mention the warm fuzzy feeling we all tend to get here in the tropics when the season’s winds blow in with just the right amount of chill. And then there’s the Christmas music that immediately takes us back to our childhood christmases, ahh the good ole days; bringing in “de’ good feels” and some good nostalgia.
So you’re probably wondering what really happens or where along the line did it all breakdown causing you exhaustion and making you all worn out to the point of no return. What did or didn’t you do to be so stressed out during each Christmas season, without you even realising or asking for it? After all, you’ve just been going with the flow of things right? And you’re not really but still kinda trying to “keep up with the Joneses” and “the Browns” in town.
In actual fact, there’s nothing wrong with wanting to make the holiday season special for you and your kids, but on the other spectrum of things when you begin to get yourself in a furry and completely exasperated over what kind of rice of peas to cook for the Christmas luncheon (where all your relatives will be at) or how you’re gonna send everyone on your “close friends list” a Christmas card, then let’s just say that you’ve found yourself in an unnecessary stressful dilema that you need not to be in, quite like the people in the Christmas song “12 Pains of Christmas“.
So I’ve put together a short list and my hopes for you after reading them is that you find doing Christmas a whole lot easier this year rather than a pain and even if you’ve already started to find yourself in a rut of decisions you’ve got to make, with my 10 very helpful, very simple tips you should find no problems making them. So here are my top 10 Helpful Tips to Help You Keep the Holiday Stress Away.
1. Do Christmas On Your Own Terms
The holidays can be so over commercialized and the glitz and the glamour of the holidays can be misleading. The stress comes when we try to live up to others’ standards or to the expectations set by past traditions more suited for family systems different to yours or a culture that you ‘re not even a part of. My tip to avoiding this Christmas horror is to find what’s suitable and important to you and your family.
What traditions are worth keeping and what aren’t; or even, what new traditions can you and your family start that are well within your daily means of functioning and budget and that’ll mean way more to you than the traditional ones. It’s time to care less about what others will think about the size of your Christmas tree or whether you’ve changed your curtain from last year’s ones and time to care more about what’s really worth your energy and worth entertaining and will be beneficial to your family’s livelihood and encourage gratitude and contentment in the long run.
2. Don’t Over Do or Over Think
Once you decipher what’s really important to you and your family during the holidays, then work towards making it happen in the most efficient ways possible. Having a shorter, concise and much more intentional “To Do List” is one definite way to help solve the problem of over doing during the holidays and avoiding the things that really aren’t necessary.
Your list should consist of only that which is important and priority since you’re trying to ignore the desire you tend to have, of doing everything you think needs to be done before Christmas Day arrives. The trick is to have smart planning and not over planning. Now smart planning won’t certainly prevent any kind of hiccups from occurring but it will lessen the potential of hiccups and definitely prepare you if they do happen. Always have a reliable plan B or even a plan C if you’re up for it. Hyper-activity for the holidays is a definite stress causer especially if you might be operating on low energy and few resources.
3. Try Fun DIY Projects That Save Time and Money
Let Google be your best friend; even if only for the holidays. There’s no reason to stress over having low funds and low resources, rather it’s about getting new ideas or changing and old ones that fit your pocket size. You”ll find thousands of gift ideas to new decor hacks and the best part is most hacks are very cost effective using recycled items that you can find around your own home.
The internet is there at your disposal, so take an hour to search on the popular search sites, (one of my favs is pinterest) and don’t be afraid to try something new and fresh. Have fun with your ideas and remember to select those that are simple, fun and cost effective.
4. Delegate and Put Your Minions to Work
I’ll bet that some of the best tasks for you are those that you don’t have to do yourself. Am I right? Am I right? We all have those tasking chores to do around the house, and Christmas time seems to just amplify them, so I definitely know that it’ll be worth it in the end when you share those gleeful Christmas chores with your kids and any other family member with empty hands and a willing spirit.
Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance. You’re not a robot and you really don’t have to do everything on your own. Don’t let your pride stand in the way either. Ask for help; what do you have to loose? As the famous saying goes, “many hands make light work”.
5. See “Down Time” as A “Grand Time”
Make great use of the time that you may not necessarily cherish daily. You know, that time that really should be spent not doing 10 to 20 different activities but rather just focused on 1 in the less hectic period of the day. Ensure that you spend such periods of time doing exactly what you are to be doing and actually “be” in those moments.
A perfect example of this would be your tea/coffee break or lunch time. If you’re at work or at home, take at least 45 minutes to an hour each day to just eat, enjoy your food and relax. Don’t engage yourself in other activities during this time. Get off your computer, tablet or cell phone because this definitely won’t work if your strolling around on Instagram or Facebook.
Just savour what you’re eating or drinking and give your mind time to defuse and your body the opportunity to regenerate as it receives nourishment. Even when you’ve finished eating take the rest of the allotted time period to unwind, relax or just “chill”. Down time is the best and most grand time when it really is used as down time.
6. Get Intentional Rest
It is here that I’ll propose that you schedule in time for you to take a breather. Yes you read me correctly. Things go so fast and can get so hectic in no time during the day, that just like all your other tasks on your to do list, you probably need to intentionally schedule rest time in. Trust me you’ll be much happier and healthier for it.
I know it isn’t always easier with the kids and or your partner to get away from them and just have even 5 minutes to yourself, so that’s why I’ll encourage you to take intentionally it for yourself. Even if you need to get out of the house to get that rest, do it. take a stroll down to the beach rent a beach chair for $5 and rest your weary head.
7. Take As Much Time To Enjoy All That You Do
With each task on your to do list, there must be some kind of enjoyable element to it and that’s what I'll challenge you to discover. Find the joy in everything you do; whether it's at the start or in the process or even at the end of each task, find that X Factor that makes it all the more worthwhile and enjoyable.
Need to make holiday cookies or cocktails? Do see it as another task or chore, have fun while doing it, dance to the music in your head, spin around and take a dip. Life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time. Running an errand down the street? Then take a nice walk and enjoy some fresh air or feel the sun on your skin. Enjoying every busy moment of your day.
8. Practice Patience and Thankfulness
I know it sounds much easier that it really is, “being patient” when all you want to do is scream and be frustrated at the long rollercoaster line you’ve been standing in forever at the Licensing Authority’s Office and who am I to tell you to be thankful for the only two workers merrily going about their business and not yours.
Yup, wow I know, you could just blow a fuse dwelling on it and that’s exactly what I don’t want you to do so I say to you be patient. Try your bestest to keep and maintain your peace in the mist of your feelings of turmoil by setting your mind on the good that may or may not outweigh the bad.
Stand still and know that there is a purpose why God allows everything to happen the way it does. Be thankful because it really could be worst. And prepare yourself for the possibilities of human error and failure which should bring your expectations of others down to normal levels and therefore shield yourself from unwanted and unneeded disappointment.
9. Get Back to The Basic
Many times it’s the simple things in life that mean and are worth much more to us than the big things. So above all your lavish efforts for the Christmas holidays, what priceless little things can you do instead that’ll help to reserve your energy and still make a lasting impact on the ones you love? Think on this and then look not only to bestow them on your loved ones during this season but throughout every other season.
10. Laugh and Then Laugh Some More
Now my final tip is one of my personal favourites, for those who know me would know that it’s my favourite probably because I love a good belly laugh. Backed by my own little research, I learnt a long time ago that laughing has many physical, mental and social benefits like:
it decreasing stress hormones
it increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies thus improving your resistance to disease.
it triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. Endorphins also promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
Now would you look at that! Laughing really IS the best medicine. So, when you find yourself in a sticky situation… laugh. When your car breaks down… laugh. When one child is screaming and the other child is crying… laugh; chances are they’ll start to laugh too.
When you go to the supermarket to find that one needed ingredient but you realize that there is none left…laugh. when your at checkout and your credit card says… DECLINED… laugh, laugh and then laugh some more. It’s useless getting upset and stressing over things that happened that were out of your control and I’m sure if you can look back at the time when things did go wrong you’ll see that they eventually worked out somehow in the end.
So throughout the season of the holidays I hope you find joy, peace, and happiness and most of all laughter amidst the madness that this holiday season can bring.
What stressors do you want to keep at bay this holiday season? Start the conversation by sharing your comments below.
Tricia Hercules Staff Blogger
Tricia is the Director of Bright Life Family Centre, who are the creators of the Parent Tales Family Community and by extension The Parent Tales Family Blog. She’s fun, witty and totally in love with the work she does daily helping Individuals and their families to thrive!