What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas? Is it holiday cheer, good times with the family, and lots of great food? Or is it oh, no! Now I have to spend countless hours in shopping malls buying gifts that noone will like, attending all kinds of parties with people I don’t even care for, and having to tromp around to every single family member’s home to spend twenty minutes with them for the holidays? If your answer is the latter, you need this article.
Holidays can be very stressful. Christmas takes the cake on the stress meter. Much of this has to do with the fact that Christmas has become so commercialized, so everyone feels the need to exchange gifts. Inevitably, a good part of this gift exchange is done between people who really don’t know what the other person will like, or between a parent and a child where the child wants the world at her or his doorstep for Christmas. What can you do about this? Try relaxing, and trying these top ten Christmas holiday activities for reducing stress.
1. Go to Border’s bookstore, and sit in the cafe’ and have a coffee. I don’t know what it is about Border’s, but the atmosphere is so relaxing. You can sit there and watch people reading, watch people talking, and enjoy a hot beverage. It’s a break from the hustle and bustle. The atmosphere is relaxed, but not as quiet as a library. It’s the perfect place to chill in between shopping or after dealing with a stressful holiday party.
2. Get a head start on the gym before your New Year’s resolution comes into play. Let me guess, you were planning on joining the gym two weeks after New Year’s day, with the hope of shedding those ten pounds you put on during the holidays. Well, forget about waiting and join the gym now. Or, if you don’t want to join, just get a guest membership or pay for the two or three times you go. Many gyms will let you use the facilities for about $12 each time if you aren’t a member. What can this accomplish? It’s amazing how much steam you can let off by running a few miles on the treadmill or climbing on the treadmill for forty five minutes. The best part about it is that you may be able to prevent gaining those pounds, and then your New Year’s resolution can be saved for something more fun, like a spring break trip or weekend getaway.
3. Set aside an entire hour for a bubble bath. It doesn’t matter that you are just filling your old tub in your bathroom with bubbles. The point is, that you make sure you are totally undisturbed for an entire hour. You don’t think of anything but the bubbles and the aroma of some vanilla candles you will light around you during your relaxation time in the tub. The key here is to make sure kids and other family members don’t disturb you during this time. Don’t take any phone calls, and don’t plot out your next shopping spree. Just relax.
4. Get together some old items and donate them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Or, donate some canned goods. The act of donating will make you feel good, like you’ve accomplished something. This positivity will help keep you even keel when you start shopping and realizing you have no idea what gift to buy anyone. This is a great stress reduction activity that will also help someone else.
5. Decide that you won’t buy into the commercialization of Christmas. What does this mean? Instead of buying gifts for everyone, you will just visit them and forget about gifts. This will ease your mind greatly. How will your relatives take this? Maybe you all can agree not to give gifts for one year, so that everyone’s stress is decreased. You might want to let them know that this year you will not be participating in the gift exchange, but will be visiting to show the true meaning of the holidays: for getting together with family and loved ones.
6. Find your favorite spot and go there. It could be somewhere local or somewhere that takes some time to get to. Perhaps there is a quiet and peaceful spot at a nearby lake that you used to go to years ago whenever times got stressful. Maybe your stress reduction place is the bowling alley. Maybe you just feel at home there and it makes you forget about the world. Wherever and whatever your place is, go there and hang out until you start to feel like a person again.
7. Before December arrives, come up with a game plan. This is one way to avoid the stress that holiday shopping and visiting can cause. If you know what you will need to do way ahead of time, you can organize your time better and stop yourself from getting stressed. For example, if you have ten relatives to visit, figure out times to visit them that won’t become too overwhelming. Instead of trying to see them all on Christmas day, try visiting some of them the weekend before or the day after Christmas, for example. It’s still Christmas time, it’s just not the day of the holiday itself. Or, if you know you have to shop for five kids, start in October and shop for one child a week instead of trying to buy fifty gifts in a five day period right before Christmas.
8. Do a family wide gift exchange instead of giving each person a gift. This is an idea some families use to manage gift giving during the holidays. The idea is that each person’s name is placed in a hat. Each person draws a name, and that is the person they will give a gift to for Christmas. Then, instead of having to buy a gift for each of fifteen family members, each person only buys gifts for one person. Just try and find out a little about the person whose name you draw so you can make them happy with the gift you choose. Don’t make it a regift or something they would never like or use.
9. Treat yourself to a night out, or something else you enjoy. If things start to get too stressful, spend a night out on the town with some good friends. This is a great way to decrease that level of holiday stress. You might try looking up a friend you haven’t seen for awhile to add to the excitement!
10. I have one word for you: chocolate! Whatever you crave, do a little indulging. A hot fudge brownie sundae can be magical during a time when your stress level is soaring. Or, grab yourself an expensive little box of chocolates and enjoy every bite.
What are your ideas for reducing stress during the Christmas holiday? Actually, these tips work for any holiday, including Thanksgiving, Easter or Valentine’s Day/!