By Cammie Jones

 

It happens every year. I make a pledge to enjoy the holidays and not be a stress case. I promise myself that I will “remember the reason for the season” and sit back, slow down and just enjoy friends, family, holiday music and decorations. I WILL NOT BE STRESSED AND I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT TAKE IT OUT ON MY FAMILY! Well, all those promises pretty much fly out the window the moment I realize how many days exist until Christmas or that my Etsy order will not be in on time unless I pay a thousand dollars extra in shipping. This year is going to be different because I am writing about it, and I am going to stick a copy of this list on every surface of my home so that I will make it through the “most wonderful time of the year” without a breakdown or two…

1. Plan Ahead

Take a close look at your calendar and plan ahead. You know when Thanksgiving is and what day Christmas lands on this year. Look at the obligations already on your calendar so that you can make sure that when those meetings or parties occur that you are able to attend and not be in such a harried state of mind. Set goals for when you would like to have all your Christmas or holiday shopping completed and try to fulfill these goals. Start with an ongoing list, either on a notepad or on your computer or phone, that you add to when you get a great gift idea for someone.

2. Get Enough Sleep

Although this may make you giggle out loud, it is very important to get plenty of sleep, especially during the hectic days of the holidays. Set a bedtime goal each day depending on what activities you have planned for the evening so that you can set a realistic time. Before bedtime, try to limit screen time on your computer or phone one to two hours before you sleep. “Harvard Medical School scientists concur that specific wavelengths of light suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain,” says Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., Effects of Screen Time on Adult Sleep, Huffington Post, 2017. The light from the screen messes with your body’s ability to sleep so put your phone away in exchange for a well-rested mom!

3. Go Outside / Exercise

Fresh air can sometimes be the best remedy for stress. Take a stroll around the neighborhood or go outside and water your plants when you need a little break or you can feel the stress coming on. If you are at work, take your lunch hour to head outside to reconnect to nature. Incorporate exercise into your day. It’s as important as getting enough sleep and will release endorphins that trigger a positive feeling in your body, all in a natural way.

Also, during the winter months, Vitamin D is essential. If you can’t get it from the outside sun, replace it with a supplement or add it in your diet via salmon, egg yolks, or fortified milk.

4. Don’t Strive for Perfection

I hope that these days, despite social media posts that primarily shows a person’s really fabulous day or life-changing event, we all know that no one is perfect. Not one person I know has the perfect life, the most talented, well-behaved kids or the ideal husband all of the time. There is no such thing as perfection here on earth so stop striving for it. Just know that we are all human and will make mistakes so put on your big girl pants and just do your best. And, don’t forget to laugh at yourself!

5. Volunteer

Not that you need to add anything else to your calendar, but giving just an hour or so to help someone else will bring you back to reality. Ring the bell for the Salvation Army, organize canned goods at your local food pantry or help with a toy drive. There are many non-profit organizations that would welcome your help this time of year and really, all year long.

6. Take a Day Off

Try to keep a day or even half a day when you are not running around or frazzled about this or that. That day can be your day to exercise, go out to lunch with a family member or friend and maybe just be home in the “quiet.” Read a book, make that phone call to an old friend or watch a television show that you recorded to watch when you can sit down and enjoy it without interruption. Have a “me” day, and get back to your to do list the next day.

7. Enjoy the Big Days

No matter how much you have to do before the “big day,” make sure that you can actually enjoy the day or evening for which you have been preparing. No one wants a stressed mom as the kids open presents Christmas morning or the frazzled person trying to get the turkey and dressing to come out to the table hot and at the same time. Appreciate the time and effort that went into the day and then sit back and relax.

When the holiday season is over, I hope that I will not be the one that sighs and says, “Thank Goodness.” I want to the person who can say it was hectic yet wonderful all at the same time but I took the time this year to really enjoy it all — even the crazy days!

This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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