“I do everything for Christmas around here!!!!!!!” Ever announced that to your family while you’re putting up the tree and wrapping the gifts, with “I Wish You a Merry Christmas” playing in the background, of course?! I am embarrassed to admit that I have, but after talking to some dear friends whom I consider to be good parents/spouses, I am not alone in this holiday stress. It’s taken me 45 years to get this “down”, so I would like to share this with you, and hopefully some of my younger readers will benefit from this wisdom earlier than I did! And if you’re “old” like me, well, there’s a few weeks left of THIS season, and next year you can start anew. Here are 5 things I am intentionally doing to make a difference in the stress levels of myself and my family this year. I may not need to do them every year, but this is where I’m starting, and we’ll see how it progresses next year. Stress definitely affects health, so it’s important to do what you can to de-stress where possible.
1. NO TREE I know that sounds too harsh for some of you, but it was a “must go” for me. Every year I was decorating our tree with little help from the kids and none from the hubs. It just didn’t matter to them as much as it did to me. But every year I was stressing out over all of it instead of enjoying it. You see, my Home Ec degree concentrated in Interior Design, and I work part-time for a designer here in Charlotte. I am a designer at heart. I can’t just hang balls on a tree. It’s got to be done at a “professional level” or not at all. So this year I opted for “not at all”, and it’s made me very happy. It will make me much happier come January when I’m not the one taking it all down and putting it back into the attic. I still decorated the house, but at a limited level (some of you would never think it was “limited”, but it was FOR ME). And I let the kids do their own rooms. WIN for me, and I’m loving it. May keep this one around. Oh, and we do have a little ceramic tree in the dining room, so there is a “tree” in the house:)
2. LIMITED EXERCISE I know there are some people who need to de-stress with exercise and they love it, like this crazy woman does! I cannot relate to that feeling in any way. Having exercise as part of my to-do list stresses me out, and makes me feel like the other important stuff isn’t getting done. Now, I normally do it anyway because I have disciplined myself to do what’s best for my health, even though most days I really don’t want to do it. Sorry Lindsay, I know you cannot understand that! So, my de-stress for Christmas is that I am cutting my exercise down to 3 times per week, and if they’re all walk/runs on the treadmill, while I watch a Netflix doc about healthy food, that’s ok. With some kettle-bell swings in there too! I think I can discipline myself to get right back into 5xweek with weights and HIITs after the holidays. I may take this into January though, because January is another very stressful month for me. Ok, that’s my last one, really. You see, all my family birthdays are in December and January. ALL of them. 7 close family birthdays in January alone. 9 months before January must have been some great times for this family!;) You can expect a few out-to-eat pics that month if you’re following on Instagram or Twitter:)
3. NO PARTY HERE Just decided I wasn’t going to throw a Christmas Party here this year. I know they’re fun and I’ll miss seeing everyone, but this is another one that definitely de-stressed my holidays. I even had extra time to do a blog post today about it! In all honesty, my husband’s job had many additional responsibilities this year, so to be fair, this was also a choice for both of us, and may change next year. We had to get through this first year of new responsibilities at work to make sure we could get through his busy season and keep our sanity. Additionally, we now have a very social “teen” who is going to parties this Christmas, so we are making adjustments for the whole family!
4. SHOP ON LINE Do I need to explain the glory of internet shopping to anyone here?!! Seriously, this one is never going back. Click and have it shipped to my front door. Enough said. De-stressed.
5. COUNT MY BLESSINGS Trying to be much more intentional, writing down if I need to, all the many blessings in my life. I tag many of my Instagram posts with #blessed and #thankful because I am, and if I read it and say it, it reminds me to be more so! After my husband went to Uganda, Africa for the first time earlier this year, our family is often reminded of how GOOD we have it here, just living here with infrastructure and an able-bodied democracy (even though it has its faults for sure). And then to have all of our needs met, and even more than that, to have extra, to be able to give, to never worry about where water or food is coming from. We are soooo blessed beyond measure. God has blessed me with more than I can count. It definitely helps and blesses me to constantly remind myself of how blessed I am, and I believe “good and positive thoughts” contribute to my health and wellbeing! Prayer, quiet time, meditation and all the spiritual disciplines are incorporated into this one. Trying to keep “Jesus is the reason for the season” at the forefront of our family this year.
My last two de-stressors have actually been happening over the last several years, but it has definitely helped. We don’t exchange gifts with extended family members except for 2. Trying to buy for all the siblings and their children just got crizazy and we have eliminated that stress for everyone! Best decision we ever made. We get together and have a wonderful time, but only the grandparents (who have a lot more discretionary income) buy gifts for all the grandchildren. That has been a process, and takes mutual family agreement for it to work, but it has worked for us. Thank God. The other one I started a few years ago, when I quit sending out the Family update and Christmas card picture to 200 people. It was a huge expense of time and money, and hey, everyone was on Facebook by then anyway! So, thank you Facebook, for letting me post my Christmas “card” for everyone, and if they want to know what we’re up to, they can just click on my feed. ha!
So, those are my De-stressors. So far, they’re working very well and I’m happy I have incorporated each one! They may not work for you, but they’ve worked beautifully for me and my family’s needs. I’d love to know what yours are!!
Encouraging Health at the Holidays,