The mere mention of “the holidays” can cause a stress reaction. What does that mean? It means the body reacts with a “flight or fight” response, which causes the release of adrenaline and cortisol, and that wouldn’t be so bad if they also didn’t cause our heart rate and blood pressure to rise and our digestion to slow down. Some studies link excess cortisol to abdominal fat. Who wants to fight the battle of the bulge without at least eating something decadent to deserve the flippin’ muffintop? Stress tears down your immune system causing you to be susceptible to every bug going around, including the nasty yearly flu. (Read The Mean Nurse’s Flu Prevention Tips and What You Don’t Know About the Flu Vaccine Can Hurt You!) Stress ages your body and your face. Ack!
Too many parties to attend, gifts to buy, kids home from school, relatives, food, and noise take a toll and at the end you collapse from exhaustion and wonder: “where did the spirit of the holidays go?” You’re exhausted, cranky and OH LOOK… Santa gave you an extra five pounds in your stocking! The bastard.
If you don’t want the stress, exhaustion and the extra weight, try some of the following strategies. You might have a shot at keeping the holiday spirit alive without needing to drink so much of the holiday spirits!
1) Keep your regular routine. Whether you take a CrossFit or yoga class every Thursday night or go running, do not skip it just to attend an office party. Do both. Your presence will only be missed for a short while and you will keep your integrity and commitment to your health. Knowing that you have to work off whatever you eat or drink may prevent you from overindulging.
2) Don’t accept every invitation. More parties with more food and alcohol means an ever-expanding waistline. Do you really want to spend an extra five or six hours of your life working that off?
3) Make instead of buying. Homemade gifts come from the heart, and they can be as simple as a cookie mix in a canning jar to as complicated as a handmade china cabinet. Handcrafted gifts are imbued with your energy and love you have for the receiver. If you aren’t a handy person, visit a local holiday craft fair. You will find plenty of items for gift-giving.
4) Recycle. We’ve all had something in our house that someone has envied and commented on every time they visit. So take the thing they love, wrap it up and give it to them. Chances are they will treasure it always, and you will get visitation rights! The Swedes actually have a holiday tradition of exchanging one personal item they no longer use with a loved one who chooses a similar item from their own household.
5) Buy throughout the year instead of waiting until the end of the year. People’s tastes generally remain the same and you probably could have most of your holiday shopping done by the time the season rolls around. Shop throughout the year, and it will save you hours of frustration and stress later.
6) Cut down on the number of gifts you buy for each person. In Italy, most families only give one, maybe two, gifts to one another and that includes the children. The time families spend together is more important than any gifts they receive.
7) Only make the food you need. We have all come away from family gatherings with containers or plates of extra food. Again, think of that extra exercise time. Prepare and take less home with you.
8) Ask people what they would like to receive instead of trying to guess. Consider taking them shopping with you and let them pick out the item they want. Adults especially care less about ripping off the wrapping paper than children, and would rather not have to stand in the returns line.
How do you make your holidays less stressful?
Any tips or tricks you’d like to share that streamline gift giving, baking or decorating?
- The Psychology of the Perfect Holiday Season (randi.org)
- Want, Need, Made, Read or Gift Giving Simplified (fortressofcrunchitude.wordpress.com)