Things around our house have been so busy lately that I've really been feeling it -and by 'it' I mean the stress of the holidays.
Holiday stress doesn't always stem from, or even focus on the holidays themselves, sometimes it's just this time of year. Whether it's wrapping up finals, end of the year reports and projects due at work, or the endless list of presents to buy on a tight budget, the most wonderful time of the year doesn't always feel wonderful.
Right now we're dealing with our nanny leaving our family right after the holidays, a household where everyone seems to acquire a new illness each week, a new baby due in the next few weeks and Matthew preparing to return to work and the long hours which will come along with that. It's wayyyy tempting for me to sit and stress about what's to come and what our next few crazy months will look like. But instead I wanted to share some of the things I find useful for busting stress during the holidays (or anytime!)
1. Get moving (even when it's cold) - When I'm feeling overwhelmed and irritable the first thing on my ideal to-do list becomes curling up in bed or on the couch to enjoy some mindless Netflix. The last month of my pregnancy with Josie that's what I did for hours everyday! The problem was, while it felt relaxing, it was not really helpful. These days I don't have that luxury, as Josie isn't allowed to watch TV, so I'm not either :) The result is I spend more time doing stuff. Anything! Getting up, getting out and getting moving gets me out of a funk, rather than laying around and sitting in it. Ask someone if they would like to meet for coffee or some hot coco. Want to be alone? Head to a bookstore and browse some new titles. It never really matters what I choose to do, the simple act of getting out of my PJ's and leaving the house always makes a difference in my day!
2. Call someone - When is the last time you made a phone call to ask someone about their day? Maybe it's a regular occurrence for you, but for me it's not. I am so guilty of falling into the text pattern and blaming it on convenience. Texting is great, I barely remember what life was like without texting (and omg GPS. I cried so many tears before GPS!) but there is something so wonderful about a real phone call. A great trick to getting out of wallowing in your problems is to call someone else and ask them about their day. And who knows, it might have been just the call they needed during this time of the year too.
3. Do less and enjoy more - Are you the type of person who takes on too many tasks? I'm definitely guilty of this, and have found it become more and more of an issue as our family grows and more opportunities arise. The next time someone asks if you wouldn't mind organizing the Secret Santa in your office, or coming early to an event to help set up, ask yourself if you really have the time. It's ok to say no to things when the alternative means taking on too much and not enjoying the important things enough. You're not the best version of yourself when you're spread too thin. Learning to prioritize is so key this time of year when it comes to fully enjoying your life and those in it.
4. Practice some self love - I think this is one of the most important things you can do. Some days lately I wake up already tired, I just don't feel like I have it in me to even complete my day - I feel like I've already lost. Somedays I just feel too tired or overwhelmed to pick up after Josie, or clean the kitchen or do much active playtime. On those days it's easy for me to feel like I'm not a very good mother. I think this is very relatable for many mom's, but it's the same for anyone working or in school as well. Not everyday is going to be as productive as we planned, but that's ok. When I have hard days like these, I think of the things in my life that bring me joy. Josie's smile, laughing with Matthew, our Christmas decorations. When I focus on the positive things it makes it easier for me to eventually move my list towards things about myself that bring me joy. Maybe today I'm not the most active mom, and our house is a mess, and I have not done laundry in...a month. But If I really think, I can always create a mental list of positive things about myself and my day. So maybe today wasn't great, but look at all I have in my life, THAT is great.
5. Take some personal time - The holiday season can be all about other people. Buying gifts, working overtime to make deadlines at work, traveling to see friends and family. While some of this can be really fun, it can also be exhausting. It's so important to take some personal time to recharge and check in with your own needs (this also goes hand in hand with #3). How do you like to relax and unwind? When Matthew and I first moved in together I didn't realize how much he craved and needed some alone time each day to unwind. As an extravert I didn't naturally crave alone time they same way he did, but over time I have grown to really value it. At the end of a long day, he loves to relax by reading (or currently playing Fallout 4) whereas I have found blogging to be very relaxing and fulfilling. I like to make some tea (or get froyo!), lay in our bed, and write. Blogging helps me feel connected to myself, because I am doing something I love that is just for me.
Everyone is different with challenges unique to them which bring upon stress and exhaustion. I would love to hear about the ways that you combat stress or relax during the holidays - we can all use some extra suggestions!