It’ll be here soon — that day those elves get so excited about— and let's face it: everyone's extra stressed. Go ahead and admit it.
Maybe you’re trying to produce the perfect crispy-moist Christmas turkey. Or you’re wondering if the kids are getting too many presents, or too few, or that they’re becoming selfish, with no understanding of the true meaning of the holiday. Maybe your least favorite relatives are visiting way too long, taking over the remote control, and telling you how to vote. Maybe there’s not enough food. Or too much. Or so much food it’s shameful. Or maybe you just want to get through the day without violating anyone's personal space.
It really doesn’t matter what gets you. Moms, more than just about any of us, need tools to help them cope with a whole new dimension of stress the winter holiday season brings. Without these tools, you just might find yourself getting an unwelcome wake up call.
Holiday stress takes many forms. One of my pet-peeves? Tangled strings of Christmas lights that may or may not work. Here's a tip that took an embarrassingly large number of years to figure out: plug in and check the lights before putting them on the tree.
Tips for Holiday Stress Relief
To prevent stress getting the best of you and spreading misery like glitter in a pre-school art room, try following these tips:
- Walk it off. Or better yet, go for a run. Sometimes, just redirecting that pent up frustration and energy will take the edge off.
- Be silly. Studies show laughter helps the brain regulate the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine, and it’s linked to the production of endorphins. So, put on those felt reindeer antlers and sing Jingle Bells off-key with the kids until the squealing starts in earnest.
- Be selfish. This time of year, you’re so focused on everyone else’s needs, it’s easy to neglect your own. Carve out a little time for yourself. Break out those 5-year-old bubble bath beads. Or go to your yoga class. Better yet, go to your yoga class wearing those reindeer antlers.
- Phone a friend. It’s not just a way to survive on game shows. If you know someone who always makes you smile, or someone who seems to manage holiday stress well, give her a call.
- Try Herbalogic Herbs. We make several formulas to help with mood stability, including Decompress, Peacekeeper and Quiet Mind. If you can’t work these other tips into your routine, or you just need a little extra, give these a try.
The Door in the Floor: A Stress Story
A good example of holiday stress run amuck is about the friend of my friend and yoga enthusiast, Betty. (for the purposes of this story, “Betty” is a pseudonym.) Knowing Betty as I do, I’m pretty sure this tale is about Betty herself. But I like games, so I'm willing to go along and say it happened to her “friend.”
Betty’s friend had a terrible time managing her holiday stress. She was constantly snapping at her husband, yelling at her kids, and cutting people off in the Goodwill parking lot. Namaste.
One snowy Saturday afternoon, shortly after shouting at the kids for leaving muddy boots in the middle of the floor, she stormed up into the attic to find more flocked dove ornaments for the Christmas tree. It was one of those attics with the drop-down ladder built into the door. And soon after she was up there, the ladder folded up, and the spring-loaded door shut with a creaking sound followed by a decisive thump.
Her husband had shut her into the attic, and she couldn’t get down.
“What the crap are you doing?” she hollered. She’s from Texas, so of course she hollered. “I’m up here!”
Her husband’s voice came through the attic floor. “I know. That’s why I shut the door.”
“Well, open it!” she said.
“No,” he said. He put some firmness and a hint of threat behind it, the way you talk to a dog who looks like it’s about to hike a leg on the pine-scented stump of O-Tannenbaum and ruin your grandmother’s hand-quilted tree skirt. “No,” he said again. "Christmas is supposed to be fun and joyous. You’re being crabby and making everyone miserable. You're going to stay up there until you get a new attitude.”
Betty’s "friend” screamed a series of expletives and started stomping her feet. It’s a reaction known in these parts as "throwing a hissy fit" and seems to be.
Her husband, unmoved, suggested she throw her fit while standing on the parts of the attic with plywood decking, else she’d fall through the ceiling.
Betty’s friend got very quiet and still. After 20 minutes her husband heard a weak, slightly ashamed voice say, “Okay, I’m ready to come down now.”
The lesson is this: sometimes mom needs a time out. The trick is recognizing the need and doing something about it before your significant other takes decisive action.