I love the holiday season. Heck, even if it wasn’t my job, I would be jumping at the chance to decorate early, blast Christmas Carols, and shop for others until my piggy bank screamed at me. This season is filled with so much joy and merriment, but (yes always a but) it can also be filled with a lot of trepidation and stresses. While I am a strong believer that we choose our outlook, I am also a realist, and sometimes we do get overwhelmed, and THAT is alright. I felt that the last couple weeks as I was battling pneumonia on top of family issues, and on top of THAT TRYING to get Christmas ready, WHILE I was working. Yes it was and still is a lot. But I am still here, and smiling when I am not keeled over coughing still.
As much as I love the holidays, especially Christmas, as someone who used food to self-soothe, but also punish myself, I can find the holidays, which must have been created by Foodies as well as Hallmark, stressful and yes, triggering. Thanksgiving especially is the Olympics when it comes to food, and Christmas is the longer sibling begging for attention and not far behind. Yes I love having my family together, (or, well, some of them, let’s be real.) but the anxiety I use to feel with these food based holidays many times overshadowed any joy I might have felt. For years I would try to figure out how to avoid it, how to time my trips to the bathroom to purge after binging, or how to hide that I just was not eating. Truthfully, it didn’t matter what day it was, I was just using the holidays as even more of an excuse to punish myself and further my demons rather than facing them.
I get the holidays can be insanely stressful, there is SO much to do, not to mention complicated family dynamics that can be triggering this time of year. And if you are dealing with addiction, or disordered eating, you just WANT it to be over. But the fact of the matter is, while the holiday season might feel like the apocalypse and perhaps a catalyst, your triggers are going to be there with or without the holidays. Learning to deal with the stress is so important. And this isn’t to say you won’t feel stressed or triggered, you will, it is human too, but finding ways to cope in those stressful moments is incredibly beneficial, and it will help every day of the year, not just on those special occasions.
Take a breath
It sounds so simple and cliche, but seriously take a breath when you feel stressed or like you will lose your ish. Just pause. Whatever is happening in that moment can wait a second, or even a minute or ten, until you can find your center, and think rationally. When we pause, AND breathe we are naturally calming our nervous system, which in turn calms ourselves.
Carve out time for yourself
You are probably going to laugh at this one. I know. I know, it is easier said than done, especially this time of year, BUT it is so important, even if it is just ten minutes to do something that brings YOU peace and that you love to do, you will feel happier and more free. Whether it is getting some exercise in, or sitting by the Christmas tree, finding that you time also centers yourself.
Give yourself a cut off time
Give myself a cut off time? What the heck are you talking about? What I mean is, you will be finished by a certain time at night, whether it is eight or nine, and what doesn’t get done that day, can get done the next day, or the day after that. Giving yourself to unwind, as well as get a decent nights sleep is so important to your health, but it also keeps your stress levels more manageable. Sleep really is a great natural healer that we don’t value enough, despite desiring this extra minutes of snoozes in the AM.
Value YOUR time
This might be slightly controversial, but if someone is ruining your peace WHY do you want to spend the holidays with them? (I really need to take my own advice with this one) Who cares if it is great Aunt Sally, or your neighbor, or even a friend that you have been slowly and painstakingly uncoupling with and you just can’t admit it. You are in no way obligated to spend time nor invite them. Screw what society says, and honor YOUR peace. That being said you don’t have to be mean either, but boundaries are a great thing when done respectfully and nicely. And while we are at it, you don’t have to buy everyone a gift because it is expected (unless you really want too), nor do you have to spend the same amount on people.
Embrace the chaos
Again another one you are probably laughing at, but let’s be real, it is a chaotic time. We all feel rushed, even those of us who are obsessive about scheduling and organizing. The best laid plans aways go awry. Whether the oven stops working, you end up with ten extra people, or the presents didn’t get there. Heck at least you didn’t electrocute the cat. (Christmas Vacation anyone?) As I mentioned above, it is all about perspective. I am also a strong believer of what will be, will be, and life is the absolute opposite of perfect. It is chaotic. But in that chaos, when we embrace it, we end up finding moments of gratitude and even peace, because we know it isn’t perfect, and we are okay with that.
Christmas comes every year. All the holidays do. And being able to celebrate them each and every year is a true treasure. Yes the preparations can be insane and make you want to go crazy, but there is also excitement in getting the tree up, and baking, and shopping and wrapping, and finding the joy in those moments not just the day of. Christmas much like life isn’t just one day, but many days filled with highs and lows. And we need to remember to give others grace, but also ourselves and embrace and enjoy the bad with the good.
How Do you handle the stress of the holidays?
Day 1: Blogmas
Day 2: Trimming the Tree
Day 3: Christmas PJ’s
Day 4: 2022 Nautical Christmas Ornament
Day 5: Bryant Park’s Winter Village
Day 6: A Christmas Chappy
Day 7: Christmas Graphic
Day 8: 2022 Skating Ornament