Happy Holidays

Strategies For Navigating Your Way To A Healthy, Stress-Free Holiday

by Todd Nelson // October - November - December 2018

The holidays are all about peace and joy … until they’re not. If you find your anxiety levels rising as the holidays and their inevitable hustle and bustle approach, here are a few ideas for coping with four common holiday-stress triggers.

Scenario #1: Gift-Shoppers’ Nightmare. You’re on your fifth loop of a way-overheated department store, searching for that perfect something to give a person you either don’t know very well or who doesn’t need another material possession in his or her life. Think outside the gift box! Is there an experience you can create? A service you might provide? Some personal talent you can share? Maybe there’s a charity or cause to which you can donate in his or her name.

Scenario #2: Dinner Disaster. You have a glossy-food-magazine vision of perfection for your holiday feast. Now you’re 30 minutes out from mealtime and things are spinning out of control in the kitchen. Ask. For. Help. Most people would rather contribute and feel useful than stand around sipping cocktails while you struggle. Graciously accepting help creates a wonderful opportunity to connect authentically with your guests and will be far more memorable than your picture-perfect meal.

Scenario #3: Dieters’ Paradox. You’re walking into a lavish party. You’ve read all the articles and tips about how to “stick to your diet” and “beat the holiday weight gain.” But, oh, so much temptation. In floods the guilt, so even if you do blow it (as you very possibly will), you don’t enjoy it at all. Accept that, no matter how disciplined you are throughout the year, there’s a very good chance you’ll indulge at least once or twice during the holiday season, and that’s ok … give yourself permission to truly enjoy these treats a little.

Scenario #4: Cranky Relative Syndrome. You’re staring down four to six hours in which you’ll be captive audience to Uncle Frank’s inebriated political rants. Or maybe you’re just the one person in your family with a radically differing lifestyle or viewpoint, and, for one reason or another, you don’t have an option of simply refusing to attend. First, take a moment to appreciate that you have people with whom to celebrate the holidays (many don’t). Then, arrive well prepared with a list of noncontroversial subjects and talking points to which you can redirect conversation. Or bring and encourage plenty of distracting activities such as card, board, and parlor games; a nostalgic singalong; a look through old family photo albums and yearbooks; or maybe just a long walk in nature after the meal.

Before and after the craziness of the holiday season and the focus on others in your life, be sure to set aside at least a few hours to indulge in real self-care. This might involve exercise, physical pampering, hiring a professional team to clean your house or outsourcing some of the cooking and baking, or maybe just spending a perfectly solitary afternoon with a cup of tea and a great book. These simple strategies will help you survive the frustrating holiday triggers we all face, and you can enjoy a calm, relaxing, and happy holiday.

Todd Nelson

Owner of MaidPro of Raleigh and Wake Forest.