Christmas Stress Busting Tips Pt 1

Well, it is a few days after a fantastic Thanksgiving Black Friday is done, Cyber Monday is in the books, and Giving Tuesday is almost done. News Flas,  we are in the “full speed ahead” mode for this Advent Season.

Have you ever noticed It never fails, about three to five days before “Black Friday,” I hear at least a partial recitation of A Visit from St. Nicholas, a poem written by an American author, Clement Clarke Moore. It is a lovely poem; that helped launch some of our modern views of Santa.

In one of the early lines in the story, he mentions, “visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.”
To be fair, a sugar-plum is not fruit in any way fashion or form. Instead, it is a sugar confection shaped to look like a plum. However, for the sake of my illustration allow me to ask the following questions

 Have your sugarplums turned to prunes?

The Holiday season can be a time of joy and dread.  It can be a time of anticipation and a time of some heavy-duty stress.  While the joy of the season is about the celebration of Christ’s birth, too many of us become sidetracked with the pressures of the season and the short days of winter.

Rather than being excited about the season we show about the same enthusiasm as a sentenced pirate about to walk the plank.  We feel dread, anxiety, exhaustion and isolation.  If you feel this way you could be a victim of the Christmas blahs, the Hanukkah malaise, the Kwanza ennui, and for the neo pagans amongst us, the Solstice slump.

In this four part series, we are going to look at practical ways to manage holiday stress, build boundaries, and celebrate this very special time of the year.

Holiday stress statistics reported by the American Psychological Association indicate that up to 69% of people are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time”, 69% are stressed by perceiving a “lack of money”, and 51% feel stressed out over the “pressure to give or receive gifts”.

Stress is the perception of pressure, tension, worry, fear, dread or anxiety. The way we respond to stress can exacerbate, or even create physical and emotional problems.
Problems such as allergies, muscle tension, GI issues, colds, flu, sinus infections, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, angina, heart disease, and heart attacks. Many individuals can develop unhealthy behaviors to cope with stress: overeating, using alcohol and drugs, and being irritable and angry.

 Rather than being excited about the season, we show the same enthusiasm as being told that you need a root canal.  We feel dread, anxiety, exhaustion and isolation.  If you feel like this, you could be a victim of the Christmas blahs, the Hanukkah malaise, the Kwanza dullness, and for the neo-pagans amongst us, the Solstice slump.

Here is the first installment of some simple suggestions, some humorous, some serious, to keep ” your sugarplums from turning into prunes.”

Remember the reason for the season.  Re-read the Christmas story, go to a worship service, attend a Christmas Play and listen to some uplifting seasonal music.
Keep your expectations in line with reality. One of the reasons things go south in so many relationships, particularly this time of year, is undiscussed and undisclosed expectations are violated. If you dare to expect a perfect holiday, then you are probably setting yourself up for a huge disappointment.

 Chill out and go with the flow! Relax, laugh take a step back and unwind.
Rememeber, regardless of what your therapist says, the Christmas season is not about problem solving.  Deal with family issues another time.  You have to choose how you are going to feel. You do not have to be a slave to old memories.
If you are going to be spending a lot of time with family, be intentional about building in breaks for the family.  The holidays can be a very special time for families to be together, but you don’t need to overdose.

Watch the food intake. The holidays are a time when many people pick up weight.  You can still have the goodies of the season just watch the servings and the sizes.  If meal preparation is a bear for you, try making some changes.  Don’t let the eating and/or drinking be the focus of the gathering.  Avoid getting loaded with spirits, sweets and fats at the same time, there is nothing worse than being bloated, loaded and wired all at the same time.  If you do overdo it, be sure to wear your elastic pants or your expandable Dockers – avoid the mid-meal unbuttoning at cost – it is humiliating to you spouse and kids.
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments. 
Next week – tips for family gatherings and practical help for the recently divorced.
 #holidaystressbusting, #holidaystresstips, #getagriponholidaystress.

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