Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finding Balance During the Holidays

Finding Balance During the Holidays

November 21, 2012

A few years ago my husband and I decided to take control of our holiday season. Between the two of us we had three families to visit. Each one living in complete opposite direction of the other. We also had several friends who were hosting. Add the fact that I worked during the holidays and wanted to host myself, the stress and worry was just way too much. We finally decided to take the holidays back in our own hands. So I wanted to share with you what helps us during this time. I hope it helps you as well. 

Don't over commit 
We are very much like circuit boards in this respect. Over committing goes hand in hand with overloading. Imagine each commitment we make lighting up on the board. Each light uses a certain amount of energy or stress. 1, 2, 3 commitments and we are feeling okay with that. We can handle that. However, 4,5,6 commitments and the lights start blinking, warning us of overload. Once that happens the joy of the holiday is gone. We are then, unable to focus on just being present. Only commit to what you can actually handle. Sit down and reflect on what is realistic for your personal life. At this moment you have permission to limit your obligations. You don't owe your holiday's to anyone. Accepting this alone will relieve a lot of stress. I can honestly say that my husband and I love every single holiday, once we took back our control. 

Be present 
Be sure to be in the moment.  If you forget something chances are nobody will miss it. Get out of your head. If you get an inkling that feelings of stress are starting to make you feel frazzled, stop what you are doing. Go outside, in a quiet space if possible and take a couple of deep breaths. It's even better if you can take your shoes off and stand with your bare feet on the ground. Standing with our feet on the ground instantly brings us back to center. Focusing on our breath does the same thing while pushing everything else out for a bit. 
You want to breathe from the diaphragm. Imagine your belly blowing up like a balloon on the inhale and concaving like your blowing out a candle slowly on the exhale. 

Be grateful 
I know this goes without saying. However, I can't tell you how many times I have gone to holiday gatherings, or have hosted one, and have not been Thanked. Even better, it is always a beautiful gesture to help with the clean up after everyone has finished eating. Again, I grew up in family where everyone pitched in. We never came to a house empty handed, we helped to set the table, and clean up afterwards. This will mean a world of joy to the host and hostess. Mind, you don't have to bring food. Wine or flowers or a beautiful candle are all appropriate gifts for the host. 

Self Care:
Note: you can include your kids in all of these. Getting them involved takes the stress off of you. 

Exercise- Even if it is just stretching. Anything that will restore you. Work out the stress. For some this may mean doing some yoga (my personal favorite) before going to someone's house. Or you can incorporate into your holiday traditions. As a child we would visit my aunt who lived in a beautiful mountain town. At some point during the day some of the adults would take a short walk, with kids trailing and playing in tow. It's a great way to clear the energy and the head during the day. 

 Sleep- You definitely want to make sure you are getting enough sleep. If you are not well rested you will not be at your best. This makes it easier to keep up with the day's activities. It also keeps the stress monster away.  

Water - This is probably your most underestimated tool for keeping you feeling balanced. Water nourishes our bodies and our brains. Our brains rely on water to function properly. From getting enough sleep to problem solving water is essential to our efficiency. During the holiday season there is so much to remember and water is key to memory function. One trick I use when I start feeling anxious about something is to breathe through my nose while drinking water (not guzzling) for a count of ten. I instantly feel relaxed.

Time management- For many people the holiday is just one more thing to add on top of an already busy schedule. This means that things can get out of control really fast. We all have used lists at some point. I imagine that many of us always take a list to the grocery store. I don't know of one mom who doesn't. Well, lists are not just for grocery shopping.To do lists, as well as, where you are going lists and when, will help you stay on track and keep overload at bay. Leave your house with plenty of time to spare so you don't feel panicked when you are on the road. 

Let It Go
At some point you have to remember to keep things in perspective. It's okay if you forget something. I have hosted Thanksgiving dinners where I actually forgot to make two of the dishes I had planned. You know what? Nobody even noticed and if they did they certainly didn't make mention. It's okay if you don't get complete everything. Got a run in you nylons? Take them off and throw them out. Haven't showered and guests are arriving? Laugh it off graciously and put them to work while you get prepared. Some one shows up early and you're cleaning the house? Hand them a feather duster and it will get done faster. Or you can leave it and sit down with a drink. Show up late? Make sure you bring flowers and a big big hug and a smile. And leave the drama at the door. 

Finally and most of all, the holiday does not have to be Leave it to Beaver, Martha Stewart Perfect. It can be what you want. If something doesn't go right laugh and don't fret, you'll have next year to do it over. By summer it won't even be a blip on your radar.  Ultimately, your in charge of your holiday. Slow it down and love every minute of it. 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

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