In went the suitcases, stroller, play pen, food and gifts for family. We made a mad rush to get out the door and were on our way. After a quick pit stop at Starbucks (open on Christmas Day!), we headed to the ferry terminal with lattes in hand and a relatively happy toddler in the back seat.
Rain pelted the windshield of the car faster than the wipers could clear it. The cold winds were up and the trees looked as though they were holding on for dear life. We sat in the ferry lineup waiting to board. It was the holidays and the stress had begun.
Every seat was occupied. Luggage, skiing gear and holiday travelers filled the boat to maximum capacity. We sat on the colourful carpet of the Kids-zone for the entire hour and 45 minute ride — snagging the only available ‘seats’ we could find. Munching on homemade nuts and bolts and watching cartoons is what got us through.
The boat docked and foot passengers and vehicles exited the ship like a herd of cattle heading for a feast. In a sense, we all were. We drove another 30 minutes up the coast to relatives where the festivities really began.
4 nights on the island, in 2 different homes and beds, attending 3 family gatherings in 5 days left us frazzled and tired. Travelling from one event to the next with a two year old in tow was exhausting on a regular day, let alone at Christmastime. Connecting with the ones we love around the holidays is important but so is not stretching yourself too thin.
Last Christmas our self-care practices were minimal, overindulging on booze and rich food left us sluggish and we over-committed and over-scheduled ourselves for all of December.
This holiday season is going to look very different.
To ensure we de-stress our De-cember, we have compiled a list of 7 simple self-care practices you can use to keep your holiday stress low and your spirits high:
1. Take 30 minutes for yourself!
If you spend between 7-8 hours sleeping that leaves you with 16-17 hours of time during the day to do what you need to do. Taking 30 minutes and going for a walk to help clear your head is so important, especially on those busy and hectic days. Walking for 30 minutes reduces your stress and sets the tone for the day ahead.
2. 5 x 5 x 5
When you feel overwhelmed, things are just not coming together or you just need a quick refresh, take the time to breathe. Inhale for five seconds, hold for five seconds and exhale for five seconds. How do you feel? The 5 x 5 x 5 is a much better way to handle stress than lashing out at someone, polishing off the booze, or having a complete meltdown. Leave those to the toddlers.
3. Don’t let your BS get too low.
When our blood sugar (BS) falls too low we have a much more difficult time managing our stress levels and we tend to overeat when we finally do sit down to a meal. Walking around hangry is not good for anyone! It’s a good idea to have simple nutritious snacks on hand like trail mix, crackers and cheese or veggies and hummus. Our brain needs fuel to function so feed it.
4. Say NO if it stresses you out.
It’s OK to say NO to things that you really don’t want to do! When we commit to things out of obligation we are not committing for the right reasons. Remember that you are only one person and can only do so much. Really check in with yourself to see if you want to do something before you say yes. You’ll be glad when you don’t have 4 events in one weekend.
5. Make a plan and stick with it.
Making a clear plan and scheduling out your holiday festivities can go a long way. Scheduling in time for exercise and other self-care practices is crucial. When we have a clear vision of what we are doing our minds are more at ease and our stress and anxiety levels lower. Here’s a great quote from Marie Forleo: “If it’s not scheduled, it’s not real.”
6. Enjoy everything in moderation.
It is so easy to overindulge around the holidays. There are goodies, alcoholic beverages and rich food everywhere. The approach we find works best is to enjoy a lot – a little. If you love drinking hot cocoa on cold winter day then enjoy it just don’t drink it every day for 7 days. Kristy is a sucker for shortbread and just cannot walk by the dessert table without enjoying a few cookies. Moderation is so important around the holidays and really the best way to live your life all year long.
7. Get enough zzz’s.
Burning the candle at both ends really sets you up for illness, exhaustion, low productivity and stress. Getting 7-8 hours of rest each night is so important. Although 7-8 hours of sleep is key, quietly reading, meditating, taking a bath and or doing yoga are all great things to do before going to bed or when you find yourself unable to sleep. Rest the body and rest the mind.
We all know that the December craziness happens every single year but many of us don’t plan for it until it’s already upon us. We do things last minute, we don’t take care of ourselves leading up to the holidays and we end up feeling sluggish, tried and burnt out come January.
Ending the year off and starting a new one is a perfect time to take care of yourself and your health. Not a single one of these self-care tips is difficult or cost a dime. Planning ahead can go a long way and so can having some handy tools to get you through.
What will you do to make you and your family’s holiday season less stressful? Please share in the comments!