The holidays are often time of joy. Frequently, they are also a time of increased stress. My present to you are some hints to deal with the stress of the holidays:
1. For large family holiday celebrations, shopping for 20 people can get stressful and expensive. Consider picking names out of a hat before the holiday. Each person can then be responsible for a gift to the one family member they pick. Some families might make exceptions for children, so that the children would still receive gifts from their different relatives.
2. Consider potluck meals.
3. Avoid catastrophizing. Keep things in perspective. Something (or things) will go likely go wrong during the holidays. Replace phrases like "This is a horrible" or "This is a nightmare" with more realistic phrases like "This is unfortunate."
4. Regularly remind yourself of all the things in life for which you could be grateful. This will help keep your troubles in perspective.
5. Remember to keep your sense of humor. When the dog eats the turkey, think about how funny a story it will be in a few years. If it will be funny later, laugh now.
6. Learn patience with others. Realize that when people are rude they are usually suffering in one way or another.
7. Expect that there may be turbulence with other family and friends. When under stress people say things that they don't mean. If (or when) someone is rude, be quick to forgive.
8. Give yourself some time off; time by yourself. With this time you can read, go for a walk, exercise, or rejuvenate with a relaxation exercise. You can listen to a free relaxation exercise at www.stressremedy.com/relax .
9. Don't forget to take care of your body. Exercise regularly and avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol.
10. If possible, do not schedule travel during peak times.
11. Do not overschedule. Leave unstructured time to socialize.
12. The holidays involve waiting in lines in stores, airports and/or traffic. You might chose the shortest line at the department store, but it ends up being, by far, the slowest line. As you think of your list of other errands, you become more and more irritated. Instead, realize that if you want to make your purchases, you need to stay in that or another line. Also think about how busy you usually are. Waiting in line gives you the perhaps rare opportunity to just relax. You could list the things in life for which you are grateful, meditate on your breath, talk to one of the other customers or look at a magazine. If you, instead, are waiting in traffic, you could enjoy some relaxing music.
13. Practice "mindfulness" throughout the day: The present moment can only be the way it is. Much of our stress comes from wishing it were different. As we pursue our goals of changing the future, we need to enjoy the process. To do so, let go the thoughts of "I wish this or that were different." Then enjoy a breath or other present moment sensation and relax one of your muscle groups. Doing this many times a day will decrease your overall stress level.
14. Under the category of "shameless plug": A perfect gift for the stressed out family member or friend is the book and CD set Take the Stress Out of Your Life: A Medical Doctor's Proven Program to Minimize Stress and Maximize Health