Written by contributor Donielle Baker of Naturally Knocked Up.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been noticing more and more how stress affects my body. Every time I have too many deadlines or too much going on at the same time, I can see my health deteriorate, I get overwhelmed, and all of a sudden I can’t do anything right.
I’ve realized that I have to stop.
I have to slow down and say no and take a break. For my own health and the emotional health of our family.
The problem is that often times the holidays add extra stress to our already full lives. We have church and school functions, holiday parties with family and friends, and when you have little ones there’s even extra stress in making sure that you make it a magical or meaningful time as well.
This year I’ve decided that things need to be different and I’ve put in to action a few things that will help de-stress our schedules, support our bodies, and keep our family sane during this holiday season.
Three ways to stay sane this holiday
1. Put all activities on one calendar and don’t overbook.
I constantly have a problem with keeping track of everywhere we need to be! I always think I’ll remember an appointment or outing, but it’s usually after I’ve either double booked myself or planned to do to much in one week. Instead, I’ve been trying to be as disciplined as I can in entering everything into the calendar on my phone and setting it with an alarm reminder.
I’ve also been taking steps to look at my calendar before saying yes, and setting helpful personal guides to keep me from feeling like I’m never home. Starting in November and through the new year, I’m making sure our family doesn’t have more than two nightly outings per week and another two daily outings. This means that we’ll be cutting back on library trips and story time, and saying no to some play dates.
And that’s okay. It’ necessary for our family to keep our stress level down.
Photo by kevin dooley
2. Limit your time with social media
If actually figured out how much time I spend on social media sites I’d probably be quite ashamed. It can be a fantastic way to keep in touch with friends and family as well as learn new things, but it can also clutter your life and make you feel like you’re not doing enough.
Do you ever check Facebook or Pinterest and feel like you’re not doing enough? I do. I see the pictures of perfectly manicured holiday decorations and feel badly that my tree doesn’t look as wonderful. I read about how people make special outings to cut down their own tree and feel kind of pathetic that I had to dig mine out from underneath our entryway crawlspace. And then there’s the parents who diligently and creatively work on Advent projects or have fun with that elf on a shelf while I start to feel anxious because I’m not doing enough for the kids.
I needed to take a break and be with my family, instead of spending that time watching what other people live their lives. So I deleted the social media apps off of my phone and keep my “online visits” short enough to check my messages just a couple of times per day. All of a sudden, I’m coming up with ideas that work for our family………and I have time to do them.
Photo by derekskey
3. Supporting our bodies
One big thing we often fail to realize is that how we nourish our bodies during times of stress can make a big impact on how well we can actually handle it. Skipping ‘me time’ because of busyness or over indulging in sweets is a recipe for disaster and you’ll end up with a body struggling to cope.
- Taking a few moments each week to plan your meals can be very helpful in saving time later and you can also make sure you’re entire family is eating a well balanced meal in between holiday parties. Choose meals with plenty of protein and good fats along with a variety of vegetables, especially those high in vitamin C. Meal planning sites like Plan to Eat and EMealz can be really helpful during these times and worth their weight in gold.
- Taking a few extra supplements during stressful periods can provide extra nutrition and mood balancing. Fish oils, vitamin C and vitamin B are fantastic additions for energy, brain function, and adrenal support.
- Finding moments to be alone can be extremely therapeutic for most of us, but can also be one of the hardest things to find time to do. Waking up 15 minutes before the rest of the household to read can provide a perfect way to get yourself together before the hustle and bustle of the day begins. Another great way to relax your body is to take a bath after everyone is in bed; the house is quiet and the warmth of the water relaxes muscles and calms the heart. A great addition would be sea salt or a drop or two of an essential oil like lavender, though I also love peppermint.
We can’t always control the stress that we experience, but we can give ourselves extra nourishment and care to make sure we don’t come out the other side exhausted and depleted.
What are you doing this season to de-stress?