I’d always suspected it, but now I know it’s true.
The American Psychological Association states that almost half of all women experience a serious jump in their stress levels during the holidays. And what are the men doing? According to the APA, roughly the same number of them are RELAXING!
This is just not fair. So what do we do about it? When we’re crazy-out-of-our-heads-stressed, our answer might be to shoot our men…but don’t do that, too many consequences. Hire a maid, a cook, a personal shopper? Nah!
As strong women (oh, yes, you are!), let’s opt to promise ourselves we won’t miss out on the joys of the holidays and we will stay healthy (even if it’s just to spite the men!). When we stress, we lower our immunity and get sick. When we don’t get enough sleep, we overeat, we get depressed, we’re too tired to do what’s needs to be done.
When you’re trying to create a memorable holiday for your family, you add dozens of extra activities that have to be squeezed into your regularly packed-full schedule. Obviously, that’s going to make you a little crazed.
There’s no avoiding the holiday hustle and bustle, but there are ways to keep your sanity and stress levels in check:
1) Laugh – Do you remember last year when you were standing in the checkout line for-ev-er, while a customer ahead of you picked up an item with no tag and the cashier had to call her manager, (who was on the other side of the store amidst another crisis), because this was the last one and she had no idea what it cost, and the manager came over and had to call for permission to make up a price and a ticket number for the computer, so the cashier stood by doing noth-ing while he figured it out? *deep breath* Huh, remember that day?
If that happens this year, laugh-out-loud! Commiserate with someone in line behind you and relieve the stress – for yourself and everyone else. Laughing out loud regulates blood pressure and helps your circulation, i.e. it keeps you healthy.
2) Bake – Whenever we get our heads into an activity that takes concentration and a flow of thoughts, we de-stress. Baking can do that for us – and we get some goodies to enjoy in the bargain.
When you bake cookies, for example, you follow steps that create energized focus. Stress takes a backseat. At holiday time, you’re likely baking cookies with ginger, cinnamon or nutmeg. Bonus! The scent of those spices soothes and cheers your mood.
3) Breathe – The dishes are washed, the kids are in bed, your list for tomorrow is written. You have an hour before bed, so turn off the TV, stereo, computer and bright lights. Pour yourself some hot cocoa and spend a few minutes sitting by the fire, or in the glow of Christmas lights or candles and take a deep breath.
Clear your head of stressful ‘to-dos’. Do nothing. Relaxation will prepare you for a tranquil tomorrow. The hot cocoa has a calming effect due to a plant compound that lowers your blood pressure when you’re stressed. And, it’s chocolate! Drink up and breathe easy.
4) Give – You may think you can’t fit one more activity into an already over-loaded schedule, but do this. Even the smallest act of kindness can ease your stress.
If time allows, volunteer at a hospital. If not, then take in the mail for an elderly person, call a relative who lives alone, slow down on a busy street and let another motorist turn, leave a dozen of those hundreds of cookies you baked on the doorstep for the postman AND it can’t hurt to sing a Christmas carol, like Here Comes Santa Claus, while you do it. Instead of just signing your Christmas cards, take a minute more to add a personal note. Heartfelt sentiments create a connection to those in your social circle and family, reducing stress.
For lots more ideas on how to give, read this.
5) Sleep – Keep a pad of paper and a pen next to your bed, so that when your mind is racing to remember all that needs to be done tomorrow, or when you’re angry with miserable Aunt Biddy, write it down and let it go.
Turn on some white noise. It will drown out other sounds that can keep you awake. Turn out any night lights or wear eye shades to keep your brain from being aroused by the light, allowing for deeper sleep. Don’t watch intense movies, play video games or have a phone conversation right before bed – they’ll only stimulate your brain making it resist peaceful sleep.
There are more tips I could add, but these are the most important. Besides, don’t you already have too much to remember?
Feel free to add to this list. What do you do to keep your mood balanced, the stress at bay and a smile on your face through the holidays?
(I’m willing to bet your man is the type who pitches in so the burden is not on you alone. My husband is, too. *big smile*)