Evergreen, Colorado, recently had its first snowfall. That means the holidays are just around the corner. That means it is time to start planning. That means my head starts hurting, and my heart rate increases. Can you relate?
I know some of you are more organized; many cold-weather, holiday people start shopping on January 1st and are more than excited about winter, the holiday season, and what little preparation you have left to accomplish. But that is NOT me. Give me summer, a beach, and a margarita! That said, I enjoy cuddling by the fire, having family time, and seeing the look on my kids' faces as they open presents by the tree. And, of course, I love giving thanks and celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
To beat "pre-holiday stress,” I thought I would attempt to focus on the positive side of this cold weather and the upcoming holiday season! AND try to decrease my future stress by getting organized, jotting down some plans, and getting ahead of things. What better way to be held accountable than to put this in writing?
I am not an expert on this topic, and I would love to hear how you prepare for the holidays and ensure a low-stress, fun-filled season! We all have to start somewhere, so here’s my launching point….
10 Ways To Help Beat Holiday Stress!
1. Set Priorities
2. Review the Calendar
3. Create a Budget
4. Make a Shopping List
6. Get more Light Exposure
8. Skip the Gifts
9. Focus on Others
10. Schedule some Time for a bit of Pampering
Avoid overcommitting yourself. This is a big one for me ... I want to do it all! Making a list of priorities makes it easier to avoid having an impossible-to-do list. However, setting priorities means scratching a few things off that list too. Some years that means skipping the holiday photo cards. Permit yourself to miss out on a few parties. Again, it is up to you and what is the most meaningful to you and your family. I know we can do it!
REVIEW THE CALENDAR
Once you have set your priorities, now is the time to ensure you have enough room on the calendar for everything. Be sure to sync the family calendar, so everyone knows the plan and doesn’t commit to another activity on specific days. This is where I always return to my priorities to see if there is something else I can fit in, but I am pretty sure the experts would tell us that's a bad idea.
CREATE A BUDGET
Avoid future stress by overspending. Set a limit of allocated funds to spend on the holidays. Come up with a holiday expense list and determine if you can fit everything into that budget. Possibly return to #1 if things need to be scaled back. As purchases are made, don’t forget to keep track of your spending to ensure you remain on track!
MAKE A SHOPPING LIST
I typically start with a list of people that I want to gift. After referring back to the budget to ensure I know how much money I have to spend on gifts, I will try to allocate those funds accordingly. Trying to get a Christmas wish list from my kids can be difficult, but I attempt to get that from them quickly to ensure we find the best price and items are not sold out. Ideally, I would plan the holiday meals and make a list. However, I admit that it typically gets done a week before Christmas. I hope to change that this year! EXERCISE!
A de-stress staple of mine is exercise! Thanks to the release of endorphins when the body is active, movement makes everything better. I attempt to incorporate some social time along with the exercise when possible. I used to love running, but my 50-year-old body has opted more for biking and weight lifting. It doesn’t matter. Just move in a way that you enjoy! Admittingly, when life gets busy, exercise can be one of the first things to go. Scheduling your week out in advance to ensure you have specific exercise time built-in is the best way to ensure I make this a priority.
The winter season tends to pull out a minor seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in me. Exercise and increasing exposure to natural light can help alleviate SAD symptoms. I feel blessed to live in Colorado and have so many sunny days in the year. However, there are weeks that my outdoor time is limited. I have a visor with a light on it that I have worn in winter’s past to try to help boost my mood. Simply You Med Spa also has an infrared sauna with chromotherapy available to our patients. It amazes me how a brief 15-minute session can lift one's mood quickly.
According to a study published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, “mindfulness-based therapy is a promising intervention for treating anxiety and mood problems in clinical populations.” Right now, this looks more like prayer and a quick 10-minute morning quiet time where I attempt to focus on gratitude. I would love to dedicate more time to this, but I find that even just 5 minutes of meditation can positively affect my mood and overall attitude for the day. SKIP THE GIFTS
One way to rid yourself of gift-giving stress is to refrain from it. I realize some people’s love language is gift-giving, and we should keep those people in mind when we make this decision. However, we are attempting to focus more on experiences and time together over presents in our house. I enjoy a secret Santa gift exchange where you can bring one gift rather than numerous. If you would like to treat a group of people, consider throwing a dinner party.
FOCUS ON OTHERS
Nothing gets me out of a “poor-me” phase than reaching out and supporting others. The holiday season is a fantastic time of year (ok, I eventually come around), but it can be even more stressful if finances are short. The volunteer options in our community are plentiful, and we always attempt to schedule a time to give back, especially during the holiday season. Not only does this fill my heart, but it fills what I believe is my duty as a Christian. One organization that is near to my heart is the Mountain Backpack Program (MBP). The volunteers of the MBP provide backpacks of food and pantry items each week to students in 12 schools in Jeffco and Clear Creek (www.mountainbackpacks.org). Throughout December, Simply You Med Spa will collect donations for this fantastic organization. In addition, we will be constructing gift baskets with some of our favorite products and services. 20% of these proceeds will be donated to this program. Feel free to reach out if you want to learn more or order a basket in advance.
SCHEDULE TIME FOR SOME SELF-PAMPERING
I realize this is the opposite of focusing on others, but we cannot give away what we do not possess. The occasional day of pampering can carry me through many stressors that would otherwise feel overwhelming. Even if it is just an hour massage, allowing myself to care for others restores my peace, improves my patience, and I’m pretty sure my parenting skills tremendously enhance too! I pray that all patients we have the honor to treat will leave our med spa feeling rested, relaxed, and restored. This is our busy season, so please try to plan and schedule your appointment in advance. However, YOU are welcome to come, sit in our space and SIMPLY breathe anytime you need a little retreat.