The Holidays: More Joy. Less Stress.

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Who feels overwhelmed for a certain two months out of the year? I’m typing right now with my arm raised high 😉  Throw in the cold, the dreary rain-but-not-snow weather in Hampton Roads, and the traffic (looking at you I-95) and suddenly here comes your inner grinch as you’re checking off that long to-do list. 

Well, let’s all take a deep breath and let go of some of the things that don’t bring joy to the holidays and concentrate on the things that do. Obvs, this is different for everyone.  If you love throwing tinsel on everything and putting a tree in every room then you do you.  If you don’t, stop pressuring yourself to have the holly-est, jolly-est Christmas ever and take some time to figure out what’s important to you and your family.  Here’s a few things I’m doing this year to stay a little more relaxed and a little less humbug.

01. Shop local

When you shop local, not only are you supporting your community but it’s often more fun and you can avoid the traffic. Take a friend, have lunch, stop for coffee and look for unique gifts that aren’t on Amazon. It might take a little sleuthing, but every city and town has family owned gems where the owner will greet you warmly and will work a little harder to help you find that special piece. Become a regular and you’ll enjoy that special feeling you get when a shop owner knows you by name and anticipates your needs.

02. Do less cooking

Is there a time consuming pie or cake that you’re expected to make every year? Order it from a local bakery.  It’s a win-win for you and a local business. Bake the homemade cookies with the kids but order the pie. Or just buy the cookie dough from the refrigerated section and let the kids decorate those much-easier-to make cookies with sprinkles.  The kids won’t care. This is something I’ve learned after 18 years of parenting. The kids do not care as much as you do. It’s a secret no one ever tells you and it is liberating. Take the time to really ask your family what’s important to them and let go of the rest.  If you’re the hostess with the mostest, become the hostess with less stress and delegate more to family and friends.


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03. Cut down on social media

This is tough one.  It’s really tough.  It’s impossible. No, I didn’t mean that! It can actually be done but it takes intention. Monitor your screen time for the week.  Think of the things you could have been doing instead and strive to reduce your phone use even by a little.  Be mindful of when you’re on your phone the most and replace that time with something else.  I’ve been using a meditation app (yes, I see the irony) in the morning instead of mindlessly scrolling while on my third coffee.  I use Headspace but there’s also Calm and Healthy Minds Program.  I’ve also been reading in the evening when I would often be scrolling.  If you like to keep up with the news, listen up. If it’s important, you’ll find out. Read that again.

04. Help Others

Helping others can help decrease stress levels and increase positive feelings.  Lots of people give during the holidays and that, of course, is a good thing. But simply helping others throughout the…/helping-others-dampens-the-effects-of-everyday-stressday hustle and bustle can be rewarding. Studies prove this is true! We’re wired to be social and being mindful of the people around us can help distract from our own stressors.  This mindfulness can keep you from becoming irritated when the elderly man is driving too slow or the line at the grocery store is snaking down the aisle. So even if you’re in a rush, take the time to help the mother with a crying toddler in one hand an armful of bags in the other.  Look the Amazon delivery person in the eye and ask about her day. Hold the elevator door, let someone ahead of you, help clean up the spill…Any kind word or gesture will do. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, holiday season!

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