holiday stress

Less Stress, More Joy This Holiday Season

holiday stressWinter is the time of year when your body naturally wants to slow down. Yet all too often, the holidays demand we be go-go-go. There are parties to go to and visits to make. There’s the cooking and baking, shopping and wrapping. There’s decorating the home and volunteering to do. There are holy services and holiday pageants and concerts to attend.

Add to this the emotional stress of family politics, and the winter holidays can seem anything but joyous.

But “Bah, Humbug!” is an easy pose. We can all find plenty to grumble about. There’s no shortage of reasons to be skeptical about the whole holiday thing, seeing it as nothing but a lot of over-commercialized bunk and phony sentiment. We only need turn on the news to see that we’re a far ways away from peace on earth and goodwill to all.

If you take the easy route. But there are also some simple ways to help your handling of all the stresses the holiday season can bring.

Most important is making sure that you keep some time for yourself – and to honor that time. After all, we can’t possibly do for others if we ourselves are stretched thin. We must give ourselves opportunities to be replenished by doing what makes us feel good, happy, uplifted, fulfilled.

Also keep up with the other things you normally do for good health: eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, and all the rest. It’s easy to get lazy about such things when so much else is going on, but it’s critical that we make self-care a priority throughout the year.

When we take care of ourselves, giving body and mind what they need to be healthy, we remain much more resilient and able to handle other stressors – whether it’s dealing with a family member we just don’t like very much or balancing multiple responsibilities to make the holidays fun for the family and friends you celebrate with.

Keeping in a positive state of mind keeps us open to the real joys that holiday celebrations can bring. (It’s also, as we noted before, good for your health!) Try, for instance, to see the world through a child’s eyes. Let go of your preconceptions and open yourself to surprise. Or just reflect on how unlikely everything around us is, how amazing the world can be – cultivating an attitude of wonder.

There are everyday miracles all around us if only we’re willing to see them.

Or reach out and help others. Give what you can – even if that’s just volunteering a bit of your time. Though it seems like this may only add to the weight of things to do, it also provides an opportunity to step beyond yourself and your own concerns through helping others. Giving, as the Greater Good Science Center reminds, is good for you, as well as those who you give to.

However you choose to spend this holiday season, we hope it is a wonderful, affirming and healthy holiday for you!

Happy holidays from all of us at Dr. Erwin’s office!

We will resume regular posting on Wednesday, January 6, 2016.