Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Stress

Toni Lucas

Toni Lucas

Peace and Joy.  We all hear the words, but many of us do not achieve the moments of happiness and sustain them at this time of year.  Then we feel cheated that we missed something important during the holidays.  The expectations are high at this time of year, and this creates more stress.  We will all feel more peace and joy if we cut back on the stress, and are more open to the joy of the season.

This is a hard one at this time of  year.  Creating a realistic budget and following it cuts down on stress not only during while shopping, but when the credit cards roll in.  You can look at it critically,  and break it up into groups. Choose how much goes to presents, decorating, food, cards, travel, and outings.  You can even make  an allowance for extras.  Just do it within your budget, and you will find that it will curb a lot of the impulse spending.

No matter what we do, there are only twenty four hours in a day.  On top of all our regular daily chores, we have meal planning, gift buying, present wrapping, and decorating. This is also a time that we are expected to attend parties, socials, and get together with friends and family.  Shopping with a list will help you to remember all the items that you need to pick up, whether that is for presents, the grocery, or to the hardware store.  Less trips to stores means more time for you to spend with the people and activities that you enjoy.

Here are a few suggested solutions to make the season brighter for yourself.

We cannot be all things, to all people, all the time.  Even just for Christmas.  Neither can any of the other people you know.
Sometimes we must choose between two different and conflicting time commitments. We might have to give our children less than what they hope for. Recognizing that others are under their own restrictions and expectations will help you to evaluate and make the most of your time and energy.  Be kind to yourself while taking into account others wants, needs, and limitations. This will help you to come up with compromises that will leave you with the energy to handle the holidays with grace.

Cleaning out of clutter happens at this time of year.  We dig out the lights, we unpack the decorations, we make room for the new that will be coming in under the tree. We all know how good that feels once it is accomplished.  Don't limit yourself to physical clutter, though.  Forgiving yourself and others can free yourself to use that energy and attention in other places in your life.  What better time of year to look at your emotional inventory and say "why do I carry that around?"  It makes room in your life to lose some of the personal baggage.

Connecting with "The Christmas Spirit"
So many people that I have talked to are saying that they just cannot get into the spirit yet. They even feel guilt for not feeling the way that they have been told that they should. There are many activities that can help you connect with that holiday spirit.  Listen to Christmas carols, watch a favorite Christmas movie.  Many places have Christmas light displays, and taking a driving or walking tour by can be a lot of fun.  Most of us associate certain foods with the holidays.  Getting the peppermint candy cane, the shortbread or cookie, the mandarin orange might help bring back and create some of the associations of the season.  If you have children, take them out tobogganing, build a snow fort, have a good spirited snowball fight.  Take them out skating and warm up with everyone having some hot chocolate afterward. This time together will be remembered for years after the toys are forgotten.

My Personal Note:
Remember your good fortune by sharing it with others.  In these times of record unemployment donations of time, money and goods are needed at all the food banks and soup kitchens, and toy drives.  Any help you can give will be appreciated.

I wish you and your loved ones all the best this holiday season.
Merry Christmas.

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