The holidays are supposed to be fun. Right?
Then how come most of us are stressing out and worrying for weeks ahead of the Big Day and dreading the day itself?
What happened to all the love, joy, reunions, gift giving, laughter and merriment associated with this, the biggest of all the holidays?
If you're in charge of the festivities this year and have spent the last six months wondering why (OH WHY?!) you volunteered to have everyone over to your place this year, I've put together my top seven tips to get you through the next couple of weeks and the Big Day itself.
(Apply these tips every day in the run up to The Big Event as well and you'll have a lot more fun and a lot less stress.)
1. Get an early night
The later you stay up the night before, the less energy you're going to have when it counts. Instead, get a good night's sleep (and don't spend it worrying about anything, it's too late now anyway) and get up early. Then spend some time creating a calming atmosphere for the rest of the house; play some nice music, put some lavender in an oil burner and do five minutes meditation, envisioning your ideal day.
2. Take the time to eat breakfast like a king (or queen!)
You want to avoid sugar, caffeine and simple carbs, all of which will lead to a spike in your blood sugar levels and then a crash a few hours later. Instead have some protein and healthy fats, like oily fish with nuts and berries. What? I hear you ask!? At Christmas? OK, how about salmon and/or eggs with a side of fresh berries? Better? Good. (A great vegan alternative would be a protein packed chick pea pancake with avocado topping). Take your time to eat it, that way you won't start the day with indigestion! Then have some nuts and good quality dark chocolate on hand to snack on throughout the day. See you can be healthy and have fun ☺.
3. Pass on the percolator
Sorry but today, coffee is a no no. When your body is under stress it produces cortisol, which can leave you feeling wound up and irritable. Caffeine also produces cortisol and can artificially create a feeling of stress, even in regular coffee drinkers. Since we're looking at actively de-stressing today it makes sense to avoid it altogether. Try decaf or herbal teas instead (camomile is good).
4. Water, water, water
Staying hydrated is essential any day of the year, but even more important on days when you know you're going to be eating and drinking a lot more than you usually do. Especially things like extra meat, sugar, and alcohol. Making sure you drink plenty of water will help your body cope with mobilising the overload and enable your brain to cope better with stressful situations. So stay topped up and be sure to go 1:1 for any alcoholic drinks you might have IN ADDITION to your normal eight glasses.
5. Don't forget to breathe!
This is one of the simplest things you can do with the biggest immediate payoff: BREATHE. When you feel yourself getting wound up and tense take just a few minutes to do some deep breathing. This will help to slow your heart rate, relax your muscles, return your perspective and leave you feeling ready to go back at it. Practice this simple breathing technique now so you're ready for the big day.
6. Get out of the house
If you've just poured the gravy juices down the sink by mistake, the kids are playing football with your favourite tree decoration, and the in-laws are arguing, again. Just put your coat on and leave.
OK I don't mean, just leave, like, forever, but take five and go for a walk. Exercise, even in gentle forms like walking, can reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels and produce endorphins, the feel good hormone. Plus exercising outside is great for mental health. Combine this with the breathing exercise and you'll forget why you felt the need to leave in the first place. When you get back you'll see what you thought were worries with a renewed insight and you'll be right back on track.
(If you're feeling generous you could take everyone with you for some group therapy! Or on second thoughts maybe leave that till after the meal ☺).
7. Make memories not war
Don't forget, the most important thing about the holidays is that you get to spend time with your loved ones and make some memories, so if the dinner isn't perfect, grandma has fallen asleep at the table, the kids are making a mess of the decorations you spent hours putting up and the in-laws are STILL arguing, just let it go. Sit back, relax, smile and enjoy the moment. You're surrounded by people you love, and that's a wonderful thing.
Don't forget to share your own tips for a stress free time in the comments!