WISDOM WITHIN - December 2018
How to Ease Holiday Stress
By Suzette Scholtes
The average American spends about 42 hours a year on holiday activities. That averages about a week of shopping, wrapping, attending parties and traveling. Often these activities get squeezed into our current busy schedules.
The two top stressors, according to a survey, are chaotic schedules and money concerns. Women tend to feel a bit more stressed than the guys, and parents feel more stress as they plan for their children.
Our holidays are a chaotic and noisy. I enjoy cooking and carrying on the traditions. Our table now hosts grandkids and various nephews and nieces who keep the party even more fun.
Over the years, we have designed family guidelines. They keep the heart open and the joy abounding. They help create boundaries of respect, caring, and gratitude for one another.
Rule 1—No Whining in the Kitchen
Actually the no whine rule applies to the whole house. We established this family rule years ago when paying for vacations. Why should one spoiled apple ruin the whole bunch? If some get in a “mood,” they are expected to isolate themselves, deal with it, or leave. No negative vibes are allowed near the food.
My sister, Jeanette, loves to write out Christmas cards while I’m “not fond” of that task. The stress management gurus advise us to cut down or eliminate obligations or tasks you do not enjoy. Do what you prefer best you can! Our house looks like a holiday showcase because we love decorating. We get it done, then kick back and enjoy the beauty.
Rule 3—Delegate & Plan
It’s my Christmas day to enjoy especially as host. Many families share the tradition of “bringing something.” We plan the menu, assign the dishes, and delegate. When asking for help, use such language as “Are you willing to make a pecan pie?” That way we allow the other person to feel empowered to make their choice. It opens you to negotiate. Maybe they bring something store-bought. We do our best to foster an environment where each family member feels valued and honored.
We know this one. Why pay l8 to 20 percent after the holidays on charges you made? If you don’t have it, do not spend it. This creates lot of anxiety in January and is not a loving choice to make.
Rule 5 – Keep Your Routines
Best we are able, we keep our commitments to exercise, eat right, and get plenty of sleep during the busy holiday months. It’s a paradox, truly, that the shortest day of the year, winter solstice, is December 21. Our ancestors cozied up by the fire, roasted chestnuts, and went to bed early. Sounds good to me!
Rule 6—Go for Real Foods
Inevitably, at this time of year, you’ll be tempted with sugary, empty-calorie “treats just about wherever you go. But to be your most energetic, focused and happy self, it’s best to eat foods that grow on trees or on the ground (vegetables and fruits) and to choose healthy fats (such as olive oil and flax seeds), lean protein (such as fish and organic chicken), and legumes, nuts and seeds.
Rule 7—“Need to Do For You” lists
Writing down all that you have to do during the holidays will help you realize how do-able your tasks are. Be realistic as to what you put on your lists. Then start tackling one item from each list in turn. For example, after buying gifts for your mom or significant other, take time to work out, too. By alternating between lists, you won’t feel deprived, because you’re being good to yourself .When you practice extreme self-care and put yourself first, you are then fully available to others without resentment.
Every January Ma and I would sort out her closet, looking for stocking caps for the big snow coming. We would find wrapped Christmas gifts lost in the jumble of old sweaters, unmatched socks, various colored mittens, and yellowing baby books. She usually let me have the gifts for helping her. I knew they were 29 cent panty hose from the budget store. Yes, she gave us panty hose for Christmas! And for that matter, Mom loved the holiday so much, she seldom felt much stress.
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Suzette Scholtes’ non-fiction writing won the prestigious “Writers Digest” award. Her passions are writing and yoga and she feels one needs a sense of humor for both. She founded The Yoga School of Therapeutics where she manages one of the regions prestige teacher training programs. 10400 W. 103rd Street,