Everyone talks about them, almost everyone gets them – how can you take care of yourself during this month of parties, presents, and celebration. The holidays – Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa – have become so advertised and commercialized that people often lose sight of the original meaning of those days.
These holidays are traditionally times when families join together to celebrate, and for some Christmas and Hanukkah, are times with religious significance. For others, those days and Kwanzaa are a time to celebrate our history. Homes are decorated, food is shared and gifts are given or exchanged. But competition for bigger and better can create emotional stress, not to mention financial hardship.
Here are some suggestions for making the time between Thanksgiving and the end of the year easier to handle.
- Don’t change your routine. It is still important to exercise, eat well, and get good sleep. It is a myth that you can “catch up” on sleep. And not getting enough sleep can make you cranky and more susceptible to colds and flu.
- If you are following a diet, stay with it. Say “no” to the boxes of candy and cookies that show up at your job. Having just one piece may work for some, but remember, sugar does not satisfy your appetite. One piece can lead to two pieces (they’re small) to three pieces (I won’t have dessert tonight) to self-induced surrender and shame.
- Don’t stop exercising. Walk, run, workout – do something. If there are time constraints, make your workout shorter. If you are traveling and staying at a hotel, use the gym or ask for running maps. Some hotels even offer in-room exercise kits – a yoga mat, a large elastic band and some light weights can help you stay on track. If you are staying with family, encourage others to join you. If the weather is awful, indoor walking, i.e. mall walking is a good way to put in some time. If the weather is nice, outdoor walking or running is good, and winter sports such as skiing and ice skating are events that families can do together. Whatever you do, have fun!
- Make a budget and stick to it. Decide how much money you can spend on presents for family and friends. If you have been given a wish list and nothing on it is in your budget, be creative. Can you offer to put some money toward that new bicycle instead of paying for the whole bike? Could you offer the gift of your time, such as teaching someone to knit or sew? Teenagers might offer to trade computer help for cooking or knitting lessons. For someone who has everything they could possibly need, think about making a charitable gift in their name. It might be a charity they enjoy supporting anyway. Organizations such as the Heifer project use donations to purchase farm and field animals for people in subsistence economies around the world. Animals become income producers, as the owner sells the eggs, milk or wool and then pays it forward by sharing young animals the following year. Heifer project even sells swarms of honey bees, which help farmers pollinate their crops, as well as providing honey.
- Plan to spend time with your chosen family. Many people feel an obligation to their biological family around the holidays, but no longer have much of a connection to them. However, most of us have created family who share our values, who support and love us. Have a pot luck – contributing to a meal can be an inexpensive way to celebrate the experiences that you have shared over the past year.
- Make ornaments and garlands for gifts and/or decoration. Buy some clear glass balls and put colored ribbon or paper (pretty much anything goes) inside. Or buy some colored balls, and use glue and glitter to decorate them. Kids can customize balls with their names or those of a relative. Kids can decorate their stockings too. Gold and silver ribbon and trim is easy to find. Popcorn, fresh cranberries and some thread make garlands for your Christmas tree, or around an outdoor tree as a present for the birds. Not enough money for a tree? Buy a tiny one. Or forego the tree entirely and decorate your windows and doors. I hang ornaments from the track lights (use plastic hooks!). Origami animals from old Christmas wrapping paper look quite festive as well.
- Be good to yourself. Give yourself a gift. Whether it’s an expensive item that you have been wanting, or a mani-pedi with silver polish, remind yourself that you work hard all year long, and it’s okay to be your own Santa Claus!
Have a very happy, stress free holiday, however you choose to celebrate it!