Don’t mess with stress this Christmas!
There are lists to finish, cookies to decorate, presents to wrap and parties to attend. As much joy and cheer as the holidays bring, stress can hang in the air like a misplaced mistletoe. The easiest thing to cut out of our schedules during the preparations and celebrations is sleep, and we all know Santa won’t come unless we’re soundly snoozing.
When life gets busy and sleep falls to the wayside as you wrap gifts well into the night, you may find yourself a little more irritable, stressed out and on Santa’s naughty list. Without a solid night’s sleep, you might be sabotaging your holiday cheer, not to mentioning heaping on holiday stress.
Balance holiday life and sleep
Stick to your regular bedtime routine – Working on Christmas cards or online shopping until the last minute before bed will not deliver candy canes and sugar plums dancing in your dreams. Relax before hitting the pillow by reading a book, taking a hot (and well-deserved) bath or let your favorite Christmas movie lull you to sleep.
Learn to say no – Try not to feel obligated to attend every holiday party or offer to bring a dish to every celebration. With so much on your plate already, piling on more than necessary may bring out the Grinch in you. Passing up on the neighbor’s ugly Christmas sweater party may mean you miss out on some spiked eggnog but it can give you that extra shut-eye you need to wake up early and get some gift shopping done.
Prioritize your time – Santa has his list and so should you. By scheduling time to complete each task, you can stay ahead of the reindeer games and avoid rushing to get things done at the last minute. Crossing things off your list can help you relax at night knowing you accomplished your mission for the day and allow you to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
Share your task-list – For the perfectionists out there this may be a hard feat, but delegation is a major key to de-stress. Ask your aunt to make her famous potatoes for dinner instead of asking for the recipe, or create a cookie exchange with co-workers to maximize your cookie choices and save time by only having to make one type. And then sleep well knowing Santa’s not the only one who knows the secret of an elf army at Christmas.
Nap with abandon – Between baking the pies and hanging the decorations, squeeze in a nap to give yourself that extra boost of energy. Quick 20-minute snoozes daily will get you through the holiday balancing act of your to-do list and won’t disrupt your normal sleep pattern.
Stick to a budget – Something we all lose sleep over is money and we always find ourselves spending more during the holidays.
- Set a budget and a plan of what you’ll spend on each family member and friend to keep yourself within a reasonable spending limit.
- Give a personal touch to your gifts by hand-making something special for those on your list this year.
- Create a gift exchange with your family where each person is only responsible for one family member’s gift, like a secret Santa.
- Organize a gift grab – a fun and economical way to do the holidays.
To do a gift grab, have everyone bring a small, wrapped gift under a certain price limit and place it in a central location. Put a number in a hat for each person participating, and then draw numbers to determine the order in which they select their gifts. Simple enough, but what makes a gift grab special is the ability to steal gifts after you’ve chosen. Once the first person has selected their gift, anyone after that can choose to either take another person’s present or choose from the pile. The person whose gift is stolen can do the same — either steal another’s gift or pick a new one — but they cannot steal back their gift. Play until there are no gifts left to exchange. – Read more: Gift exchange ideas
Don’t abandon healthy habits – It’s easy to give in a little to temptations this time of year, but healthy eating and exercise can reduce stress and increase your chances of sleep success. A great way to get some exercise is by going for a walk around your neighborhood and enjoying everyone’s lights and decorations. Drive the family to another neighborhood, pack up some hot chocolate and walk around to see areas you don’t get to enjoy during the usual work/home commute.
Cheer for one & all
Sometimes no matter how much sleep we can squeeze in, the season can take a lot out of us. Keep yourself going with these little holiday cheer hacks:
- Soak up some sunshine – Read a book by the window and let the sunshine on your face and warm your weary bones. Play outside with the kids and build a snowman, or enjoy a stroll around the neighborhood.
- Take a whiff of citrus – Give your brain a mood boost by smelling citrus. Light a citrus-scented candle or have a bowl of citrus potpourri for a quick whiff when you start to feel stress creeping in.
- Make music your therapy – With so many holiday tunes to choose from, you’ll never run out of versions of your favorite classics jingles.
- Plan downtime – The holiday season is about giving, but we can often forget to give back to ourselves. Put aside some time for relaxing and enjoying the holiday spirit. Book yourself a massage, get a pedicure or one of my favorite ways to treat myself is to go to the movies alone. Away from the Christmas chaos, a place where you need to turn your phone on silent and no one will tell on you if you ask for extra butter on your popcorn.
- Enjoy your decorations – A personal touch from me to you is something my mother used to do before bed to calm us from the excitement of Santa and his reindeer coming to our house. She turned off all the house lights, letting the tree and mantle lights illuminate the room while soft holiday music played in the background. We sat and enjoyed the decorations and tried to be as quiet as possible, hoping to hear hooves landing on our roof. Calming and peaceful, it was the moment the energy of Christmas filled us up with happiness and love. Of course, the next morning we woke and tore into those presents like Viking warriors.