The holidays are a wonderful time of year. Families gather to celebrate another year of love and solidarity; parties abound with coworkers and friends; there’s always something special to do, from seeing lights to listening to a concert to volunteering to help those less fortunate.
For these exact same reasons, the holidays are a stressful time of year. Families gather…which can be anxiety-provoking on its own. The parties with coworkers and friends seem never-ending. The time commitment to outside activities is overwhelming.
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We want you to do more than survive the holidays. We want you to feel truly joyful. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Here are some tips to maintain your health and sanity during the blessed and stressed holiday season.
1) Start with “Me Time.” Each morning, start your day with five minutes of meditation. It’s amazing what a few short minutes of deep breathing can do to set the tone. Meditate while you prepare tea or coffee. Take time to clear your mind and focus on what you’re grateful for, or to focus on nothing at all but your breath. Do this again before you go to sleep. Clear away the day so you can be well-rested for the next.
2) Don’t be afraid to say no. If you have your kids’ recital on Thursday, your mandatory office Christmas party on Friday, and family at the house on Saturday, it is okay to tell your friends who are having a Football and White Elephant Gift Exchange on Sunday that you won’t be able to make it. Whatever your reasons for needing to skip an event are valid. It doesn’t make you a Grinch. Saying no is healthy and necessary.
3) Set spending limits. One of the most aggravating parts of the holidays can be the financial burden. Trying to remember what size shirt your cousin’s husband wears is hard enough, and dropping 25 bucks on the shirt is sometimes even harder. If you are feeling a financial strain this year, figure out what people you can ask not to exchange gifts. They will understand (and maybe even be secretly grateful you saved them the hassle). Set spending limits with the people closest to you. Don’t let the stress of the holidays linger with you all year in the form of credit card debt.
4) Take a walk. It sounds simple, but even five minutes outside, speed walking through your chilly neighborhood, will release endorphins and center your spirit. Plus, with the overeating inherent with the holidays, this can be a way to burn calories and jump start your metabolism. (Bonus, it is a great excuse to get away from the house, if needed.)
5) Practice gratitude. Whatever your circumstances this year, whether you’re overburdened with commitments or feeling lonely, concentrating on what you’re grateful for is scientifically proven to improve your mental state. Concentrate on the good things, and you will find those are what show up in your life.
From the Charleston Counseling Center, have a happy, healthy, and joyful holiday season!