Tinsel, lights, snowmen, dinner, dishes, regular family, extra family, cold weather, sick kids, no school, tree, decorating, stockings, baking, thinking of presents, buying presents, wrapping presents…
“Holy S…anta Claus. Mom, how do you do this every year?”
I may have prefaced Santa with a few other adjectives when my mom, who I think I should start calling Saint Diana, began to list some of the challenges the holiday season typically brings for her. My poor mom. After hearing that, I couldn’t help but feel bad. This pressure to create the perfect occasion for so many people – no one person should have to bear that weight, whether it’s your mom, dad, you, or anyone!
Is it the most wonderful time of the year? It can be! But with the expectation and anticipation of a magical holiday comes a whole lot of work and stress. We have to remember that one of the big goals for this time of year should be to enjoy the company of family and friends.
This holiday season, let’s make sure we’re all doing our part to create a less stressed experience for all. Here are a couple easy ways to balance the cheer.
Plan ahead. If you’re hosting, keep it simple. Try menus you can make ahead of time or at least partially prepare and freeze. Decorate, cook, shop, or do whatever’s on your list in advance (yes, I know, easier said than done). If you’re visiting (or supporting your guests) and drinking alcohol, consider a plan for getting home safely at the end of the festivities - many communities offer special holiday transportation services and/or free ride programs like Operation Red Nose in Prince George.
Organize and delegate. Rather than one person cooking the whole family meal, invite guests to bring a dish.Kids can help with gift-wrapping, decorating, and baking. If you see one person rushing to do everything, that’s an opportunity to lend a hand.
Practice mindful eating and drinking. It’s no secret that the holidays expose us to an abundance of delicious food and drinks. Eating‘one more cookie’ or sipping on ‘one more drink’ are normal parts of holidaying, but be mindful of how your body is feeling. You can help maintain your regular sense of well-being by eating regular meals and snacks and engaging in fun physical activity. It’s a great time of year to combine indoor treats with outdoor experiences like snowman-building or skating!
Stay within budget. Finances are a huge source of stress for many people. Do yourself a favour: set a budget and stay within it. It’s the time you spend, not the money, that really matters.
Remember what the holiday season is about for you. Make this your priority. Whether it’s the holiday advertising that creates a picture that the holidays are about shiny new toys, always-happy families, and gift giving, remember that this season is really about sharing, loving, and time spent with family and loved ones. No two families are alike, so develop your own inexpensive but meaningful family traditions. Also, remember not to take things too seriously. Find fun or silly things to do, play games, catch up on your favourite Netflix show, play with pets, spend time alone or with friends – all of these are good ways to reduce stress.
Connect with your community. Attend diverse cultural events with family and friends. Help out at a local food bank or another community organization. This is a time of year where you can truly leave a positive impact.
Soon, I’ll be flying out to see my family for the holidays.I know as soon as I get off the flight, Mom is going to be there, and she’ll want to make this another trip for the books. I’m sure it’s going to be the case, but because my sister and I are going to pitch in and help make it happen! I encourage everyone to do the same for the Saint Diana in their family.