Anyone else have to laugh a little when you hear these two phrases mentioned together: “stress-free” and “Christmas”?
Like so many, I too face the onslaught of making all sorts of Christmas plans, pressure to find and give the “perfect gift”, emotional conflicts with family, dealing with the cold weather and shorter days, remembering loved ones who are no longer with us to celebrate, and navigating the ever increasing demands of the season in our indulgent society.
It can be a damn hard holiday cocktail to swallow.
Last year I made a conscious decision (for my sanity) to un-busy myself. Working towards completing my degree, letting go of a past career path and starting this business, plus the demands of three kids and their activities had pushed me to my limits. Adding Christmas to that list seemed an impossible task. So for my health, my family, and my general happiness I had to make a choice. That choice was act of simplifying and committing to less of the holiday busy: less parties, less over the top gift giving, and just more time spent with family and friends.
Don’t get me wrong, there is still stress… but compared to previous years it is significantly less. Do I still feel crunched for time and the pressure to perform holiday magic? Absolutely. But I have made some solid lifestyle changes, added in some of my herbal go-to’s (all to support my immune system and adrenals), and a gentle reminder on a daily basis to just “breathe”. All of which makes the season much more manageable and definitely more joyful.
A few practical tips on how to de-stress and get your Christmas Cheer on:
Sleep. Get enough of it. You know it, hear it all the time, are probably saying this isn’t new… you’re right. Research proves time and time again that fatigue leads to a lower stress threshold, as well as poor decision-making (for me this translates to overindulgence in holiday treats, for others spending too much, etc), accidents, as well as susceptibility to illness - and who here wants another cold or flu to run rampant through their house at the holidays? Shut it all down and say goodnight a few hours earlier a couple of nights a week. It really will do wonders.
Consider your needs vs your wants. Do you need to buy all those gifts? Do you need to take the whole dinner on yourself? Plan and attend those extra parties? Do you need to stick to a budget? Do I need to have the tree looking perfect or do I want the kids to feel that they were involved in decorating it too? (Okay, that one might just apply to me). Shape your plans and expectations around what you absolutely NEED to achieve.
Tradition can be annoying… or special. It’s part history and part attitude. Maybe it’s a family tradition passed down by relatives, maybe it’s one you want to start just for your own family. Take the time to assess why it’s important or who it is important to and adjust accordingly… it can make all the difference between suffering through or accepting and engaging in Great Aunt Jane’s holiday baking and puzzle day.
Which brings me to this. Consider your attitude. It’s always good practice to check in with YOU before, during and after the season. If you know you have difficult relatives or old wounds that come up at Christmas, take the time to reflect on your reaction to the situations. What is your mindset going in? What are your expectations? What can you do to breathe and get through it? What other coping mechanisms do you have in place other than getting blitzed on the eggnog or holiday cider?
Herbs can help! For many, it isn’t one particular thing that sets us off, but a general rise in anxiety, which leads to sleepless nights (see #1) and overanalyzing. You can try the following… (1) Taking an oat straw infusion during the season to help your nerves. (2) If your thoughts are keeping your mind racing when you need to be asleep, valerian might help. (3) Relax after a busy day before heading to bed with a mix of chamomile and spearmint tea, or a good organic nighty night blend. (4) And my favourite, passion flower and chamomile is the ultimate “in-laws” tea… either you take it to help relax or you give it to your in laws to help them to chill out ;)
Above all else, take a little time (even if it’s just 10mins) to sit down, sip a good cup of tea and take a nice deep breath. The year is nearly over, and the whole world will soon be renewing itself in spring! Spend a few indulgent moments to soak in the warmth of the season and remind yourself of what you truly cherish this time of year.
For more information on natural remedies, in depth health concerns, adrenal or deeper immune support and herbals for the whole family (as well as dosages for the above mentioned herbs), please do not hesitate to call or email and we can discuss your individual needs.
(c) 2016 Carlisle Integrative Wellness