We are fully immersed in another holiday season, and frankly, I have been feeling a little festive this year.
The past two years have been a challenge for all of us and sometimes a season of festivity can be a bit overwhelming when combined with the everyday stressors of life.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Some of our beloved traditions may not be accessible to us or just aren’t possible this year.
It is enough to bring out some pre-holiday blues to be sure but there are still lots of ways to make amazing holiday memories with those who you hold dear.
Keep it simple, focus on the things that you can control — and focus on the things that give you the most joy.
Keep Moving: There is an increase in the occurrence of heart attacks and heart-related deaths during the festive season, which may be due to stress, heavy alcohol consumption, a fatty diet, or some combination of the three.
What can we do to alleviate this? Simply by taking care of yourself!
Eat a healthy diet, limit portion sizes of those high-calorie sweet treats, and add some exercise to your daily routine.
Even if you plan to indulge, try to budget time to burn calories off — even just a daily walk can have major benefits for your mental and physical well-being!
Physical activity reorganizes the brain in such a way that it reduces its response to stress.
Regular exercise can help to decrease tension, boost your mood, and produce endorphins that will help you cope with stress better!
You may find that a 10-minute walk stretches into a half-hour that you look forward to each day — and give you fewer reasons to feel guilty about all the extra holiday treats you are enjoying!
Keep It Simple: If decorating your home only stresses you out and prevents you from doing things that you truly love, it is OK to not decorate.
There is no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to have a giant Christmas tree or a huge slew of “Clark Griswold” lights adorning your house this year.
If you need more festive spirit, try adding a string of white lights in the rooms you frequent along with some peppermint or balsam plug-ins.
They will add a nice warmth and scent to your home that will put you in the spirit without creating a lot of extra work and eventual clean-up.
That being said, if all of the holiday parties you feel you need to attend are getting in the way of your love of decorating your house from top to bottom, RSVP your regrets, put on your comfiest pajamas, crank up the holiday tunes and deck the halls of your home as much as you like.
In other words — do what gives you joy and say goodbye to the things that you think you “should” be doing.
The freedom this will give you is truly exhilarating and you will find it might create the best holiday season yet!
Be a Savvy Spender: This time of year is truly a challenge, particularly for those fiscally strapped families that are already living paycheck to paycheck.
Set a budget for gifts as well as any other holiday spending that may occur — such as visiting friends, potluck dinners, or traveling to visit families.
Know what you have to spend on gifts and stick to it — no one is going to be looking at the price tag of that gift — they are just going to be grateful that you thought of them!
In some years, when my budget has been slimmer than others, I have done homemade gifts or made up small themed gift bags.
Moral of the story: Do not put yourself in debt or financial distress to dazzle your loved ones this season.
Make your budget, stick to it, no matter how meager it is — and enjoy the reason for celebrating to begin with!
If you think other members of your family are feeling the same, consider a white elephant exchange — which is always a hoot — or draw names to focus on one significant gift rather than a bunch of smaller ones.
The gift of time with your loved ones is all they really need!
No matter how you spend your holiday — make sure you focus on the things and the people who bring you joy.
Your holidays will be bright and full of love no matter how you spend them!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)