The holiday season is the most joyous time of the year! But, is it really? Is it really a time of joy? Have we taken the “joy” out of what this season should be? Are we taking time to reflect? It is the end of the year. Remember last January when you were setting your goals for the year? Well, here it is December! Did you accomplish all of those goals? Are you trying your hardest to achieve something that at this point is just not realistic? Do you have crazy long lists from every member of your family with an outrageous amount of stuff that they want for Christmas? Do you feel the pressure to make sure none of them are disappointed when it’s time to unwrap presents? How about your baking? Have you started yet? And, that big Christmas dinner? Is your menu planned and your grocery list ready? Oh yeah, the parties! You must have new outfits for the parties!
Stress! It’s real! And, we are great at giving life to stress! Why? It’s called pressure. We feel the pressure coming at us at all angles. It doesn’t have to be this way. Yes, I said it! STOP!
A couple of weeks ago my daughter was performing in her high school play. It was more of a variety show. They titled the production, “Just Breathe”. It was loosely based on the contemporary Christian hit by Johnny Diaz of the same name.
“Alarm clock screaming bare feet hit the floor
It’s off to the races everybody out the door
I’m feeling like I’m falling behind, it’s a crazy life
Ninety miles an hour going fast as I can
Trying to push a little harder trying to get the upper hand
So much to do in so little time, it’s a crazy life
It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day”
Can you relate to these lyrics? I know I can! It’s my life on a daily basis. I am a working mom and wife who has a lot on her plate daily and I know each of you do also. And, it seems like this time of year it’s only compounded. Does it have to be? The answer to this question is not an easy one. Yes, it’s the holiday season and the expectations for all of us are higher than most other times of the year. But, what I want to tell you now is “Just Breathe”
“When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel You say
Just Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe”
Sounds simple, right? It really can be simple if we take time to breathe, to reflect, and to meditate on the true joy that comes with the season. It’s also time to set different expectations for ourselves, our families and our friends. If you are willing to take the first step in making a change, then I believe everyone around you will feel the release of the pressure that really is consuming us all.
I would like to give you just a few simple ideas to help you manage your stress level this holiday season as you begin to just breathe.
Set a Spending Budget
And stick with it! Although spending money during the holiday season is unavoidable, you can control how much you spend. Some of the stress you feel over the holidays may have a lot to do with financial pressure. To help prevent stress over money, plan ahead, review your finances, and come up with a realistic budget for gifts. Buying gifts shouldn’t affect your ability to pay your bills, nor should it result in costly credit card debt.
Don’t let others pressure you into spending more than you can afford. Using a credit card is tempting, but it can also complicate matters. It might take several months or years to lower the balance. Decide on a maximum amount and stick to that budget. You can also get creative and think of gift ideas that don’t involve money. A friend or family member might appreciate the gift of time better than an actual item. Also, don’t feel obligated to buy a gift for everyone!
When you’re running around during the holiday season, exercise might be the last thing on your mind. What you may not realize, however, is that being active can elevate your mood and help you cope with stress.
Exercise and other types of physical activity stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are brain chemicals that function as a natural painkiller. They can trigger a positive feeling in the body, boosting mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and stress.
Understandably, you might be busy and have little time for physical activity during the holidays. However, it doesn’t take much time to maintain a calm mental state. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity a minimum of three times each week. Find an activity that works for you and your lifestyle.
Keep things Simple
The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. This might be the case if you’re welcoming out-of-town guests and hosting family festivities. You don’t necessarily have to cancel your plans, but make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your family involved and delegate. Know your limitations and learn how to say “no.”
Take Time for Yourself and Breathe
Setting aside time for yourself is another great way to cope with stress during the holidays. With so much happening, you might not have a moment alone. But, if you start your day out with quiet time with GOD and reflection focusing your mind and your heart on your most important relationship you will feel a peace and a calm that will boost you with the energy you need to get through each day. Doing activities you enjoy, especially with your family and loved ones can help you gain the joy that sometimes goes missing during this season.
Make Wise Choices
Remember you cannot do it all. You have to choose what truly is important to you and your family. A suggestion might be to create a calendar and decide which days you will allow to be “busy” and which days you want to truly focus on “joy”.
I want to truly wish you a joyous holiday season filled with spirit of Christmas! Remember to Just Breathe!