Tips for celebrating - not just surviving - the holidays
About this time every year, I long for the holiday season.
Parties, shopping, big family gatherings - it truly is the most
wonderful time of the year. Then the season hits, and I say to
myself, "What were you thinking?" All the parties I have to go to,
the gifts I have to buy, the never-ending get-togethers! Will it
never end? Yes, the holidays are both joyous and stressful. Whether
it's finances or family, some stress is hard to avoid. And it's not
all in your mind.
Experiencing stress causes your body to release hormones that
help you get ready to respond to the source of the stress. They
make your heart beatfaster, raise your blood pressure, increase
your breathing rate and burn stored energy.
Unfortunately, stress is hard to respond to. We can't fight
being stuck in holiday traffic, and we can't run away from credit
card bills. So all those extra hormones are not eliminated
properly. Overtime, these chemical changes can weaken your immune
system, strain your heart, cause stomach or intestinal problems and
more. For most of us, stress won't lead to extreme health problems,
but it may cause headaches, loss of sleep, irritability and
indigestion. So, how can you reduce holiday stress?
Be realistic not idealistic. Admit it now: I am not Martha
Stewart. It's OK. One way to lower stress is to lower your
expectations. Plan your activities-including shopping, baking and
partying-on a master calendar. Stick to your schedule and feel free
to say no to things that aren't on it.
Make good choices. "You don't have to do it all,"says Elaine St.
James in her book Simplify Your Christmas. "If you learn to make
good choices, and keep those choices to a minimum, you can have
your Christmas and enjoy it, too."
Take "me" time. Ink in some time for yourself. Block off times
to do something just for you, whether it's reading a great novel or
getting a relaxing Swedish
Massage or Deep
Go with the flow. You're not perfect the rest of the year, so
learn to go with the flow, whether it's because you burnt the yams
or because your youngest said something inappropriate during
dinner. The holiday season is for celebration, not competition.
Practice moderation. Don't use the season as a license to overdo
it. Eating too much, drinking too much and spending too much money
will only make you feel worse later. But don't deprive yourself
either. Moderation is what's key. -By Shelley Flannery