Twelve Holiday Stress Busters of Christmas

By Cassy Wimmer, LSW

If your family is like mine, what is supposed to be the happiest and most peaceful holiday can quickly turn into yelling, tantrums, and hurt feelings.  If you want to change your “silent treatments” into “Silent Nights,” follow these simple steps for less stress!

12.  Today, make a list of twelve things you do every year around the holidays that you don’t like or that are not necessary.  Brainstorm:  Which ones can you delegate to others?  Which ones can you ignore and not feel guilty?  Which ones can you make less intense?  Pick five that you are willing to change.

11.   Look at that list of stressful things again.  Pick two that you can accomplish ahead of time.  Set a timer for eleven minutes once or twice a day (depending on the size of the projects).  Work on these projects while the timer runs, and quit when the timer beeps!  Continue this until the projects are complete.

10. Ten fingers, ten toes.  Pamper them!  If you don’t do manicures or pedicures, find another way to treat yourself to stay relaxed and ready to give this season.  Even an hour alone to read, a warm candle-lit bath, or a quick walk can be relaxing and rewarding enough to improve your motivation.

9.  What do you think of a nine o’clock bedtime? Sound luxurious? Painful? Either way, getting enough sleep is one of the top ways to reduce stress.  Gallup Polls show that Americans only average 6.8 hours per sleep per night, and experts say that we should be averaging eight.

8.  Take a moment to ponder:  is there an area of your life that needs a “stop sign” right now?  Maybe there’s an unhealthy relationship causing you stress, and you need to set some boundaries.  Maybe you’re over-committed and you need to take a break from something.  Maybe there’s a situation you need to let go of.  By the way, stop signs have eight sides.

7. One week (seven days) before Christmas, take time to concentrate on the meaning of the season.  What is important to you about it?  What do you want to focus on?  Write these things down and then brainstorm ways to keep your focus this year.

6.  The USDA’s “My Plate” displays the six food groups that comprise a healthy diet.  The Food Mood Project found that minimizing “food stressors,” (alcohol, caffeine, sugars, and chocolate) and increasing “food supporters,” (water, fruits, vegetables, and fish oil) can lessen your stress.  What we eat not only affects our physical wellbeing, but our emotional wellbeing, too.  Care for your body by making a couple nutrition changes before the season gets too hectic.  However, being rigid about it can cause stress, too:  allow yourself to enjoy in moderation.

5.  Take five deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, whenever you have a pause in your day.  Use the time while you’re waiting for the microwave, the time you stand in line at the store, or your drive time.  While you breathe, think about how rejuvenated your body feels just taking these breaths.

4. Get rid of those four letter words, along with all the other negative self-talk!  Did you know that it’s our thoughts which determine our moods and ultimately our behavior?  Many people aren’t even aware of all the negative thoughts and words they let run through their minds and mouths.  Increase your awareness by drawing a symbol on your hand to remind you to pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day.  Then, replace those negatives with positives.

3. Pick three people in your life who need to know how much they mean to you.  Take some time to write a letter, send a card, or even send a quick text letting them know how thankful you are.  When you do this, take a few moments to really feel the gratitude you have.  It is this thankfulness that helps us stay encouraged.

2.  Amazon Prime Two-Day Shipping.  No, Amazon is not paying me for a plug.  I’m just excited about the prospect of avoiding rude customers, busy aisles, and the rush of traffic!  So, cozy up in pajamas with a hot beverage and your favorite shopping website.  Christmas shopping might become relaxing if you’re not careful! [Editor’s note: If you log on to your account through this Amazon Smile link and designate Anchorpoint,  .5%  of your sales will be donated to Anchorpoint.]

1. Remember:  there’s only one you.  If you can’t give anymore because you haven’t taken the time to care for yourself, who suffers?  The ones you love the most are the ones who suffer!  It’s important for you and for them that you put yourself first and make sure that you are in top shape to serve.

Are you feeling overwhelmed or experiencing stress and anxiety? A compassionate therapist will listen and can help you with self-care and coping strategies. To schedule an appointment, call Anchorpoint at 412-366-1300.

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