Getting a Handle on Christmas Stress
Patch offers a plan for avoiding the stresses of the big day.
At this time of year, life is stressful. Even after the presents are laid neatly under the tree and the turkey is in the oven, we still have to juggle family commitments and expectations. Tensions are high and family members often end up in the dreaded holiday confrontation. This is when I am most thankful for being a runner.
Over the years, I have learned that the easiest way to go from stressed out to being able to cope is to exercise. It is that simple. However, it is easy to forget when you are in the middle of a holiday hurricane of emotions. So, before you head over to the grandparents or in-laws (or welcome the whole brood into your home), arm yourself with this five-step plan.
- Keep in mind that we are all in the same boat. Other than the aunt we all have who lives in La La Land and never worries about a thing, most of us are at least a little stressed out. So, our first goal of the day is to present a united front and laugh the stress away, even when it doesn't seem at all funny. A little laughter goes a long way.
- Take a nap. Whether you are a parent who spent all of Christmas Eve putting together gifts or were just woken up by the 7 a.m. call from Great Aunt Betty, chances are oyou are at least a little sleep deprived on Christmas. One of the most fun parts of Christmas is the moment when everything goes quiet in the house and you can stop and catch up on at least some of that much-needed sleep.
- Keep alcohol to a minimum. While a glass of wine can offer just the amount of relaxation we need to get through a stressful Christmas dinner, sometimes it is that little bit extra that makes us more likely to say something that triggers the avalanche of family turmoil.
- Have fun. Sometimes it is easier said than done but having fun should be a huge part of this holiday. Instead of remembering the list of things you have forgotten to do and beating yourself up, give yourself a break. Instead, remember what it was like to be a kid on Christmas. Remember the excitement of the day and embrace the spirit of the season.
- Get out and exercise. (This is my recommendation to solve 99.9 percent of stress-related problems.) If you are lucky, like me, and have a running family, bring your running shoes to the family gathering and plan a run with some of your favorite runners. If you aren't a runner, plan a post dinner walk with a couple or all of the members of your family. Or if you really need it, like I did this past Thanksgiving, sneak away for a little while for a walk or a run. It is hard to be stressed out after a good walk or run. You will not only get the vitamin D from being outside in the sun a bit but you will also welcome in those endorphins that are always on standby to make any situation just that much better.
There is a lot of pressure in our lives to make everything picture perfect for the holidays. In my entire life, I remember only one holiday that was just that. Nobody in the house was sick, nobody was cranky and everybody got along. However, that isn't the norm. Most Christmas days, there is at least one toddler in the house with snot running freely and one sister, brother or child who seems determined to cause your heart rate to rise. Plus, there's always at least one thing you simply forgot to do before the big day. Since we can't go hide in our closet and avoid the stress all together, take a breath, make a plan and try to enjoy.
For more holiday stories on Greater Annapolis Patch, click here.