As a child, Christmas used to be my very favorite holiday – spending quality time with the whole family, having homemade hot chocolate with my sisters while watching our favorite movies in front of the chimney brings back lots of good memories.
Now, as an adult, things look a tiny bit different, and in the last couple of seasons, I caught myself feeling much more stressed than joyful, unfortunately.
Crafting Advent calendars, baking 5 kinds of different cookies, buying gifts for everyone and wrapping them all, Christmas parties, writing Christmas cards, planning the festive meal, and not to mention the Christmas decorations that need to be put up!
Living with an autoimmune disease, many of us are already aware of additional stress’s impact. Therefore, whenever possible, I try to avoid any extra layers of stress, and that’s why I would like to share some of my top six tips on how to get through the Christmas season as stress-free as possible.
- Preparation is vital – Get your shopping done early.
If you do like to buy gifts for your loved ones, start early. I did a lot of my gift shopping already in early October – yep, you read that right. I remember walking through the mall less than 3 weeks later, and I could see that many others started their gift shopping as well. I was glad I’d already done my part as the mall was jam-packed. Since it is already the end of November when I publish this post, what are you waiting for? Put on your boots and head out so you’ll be able to get this task out of your head 🙂
- Join a monthly Yoga challenge.
Yoga is well known for positively affecting stress; with these challenges, you hold yourself accountable, and it helps to kickstart your day. Youtube provides plenty of “Yoga challenges,” lasting from one week up to a month or even longer. I love to participate as it also gives me something to look forward to every evening when I go to bed.
- Create daily moments of happiness – for yourself!
Do you know what makes you happy? I created a list of little things that can be done daily and make me happy. It’s easy to forget about these little pleasures during a stressful day. So give yourself a mindful 10-min. break and do something for your mind, body, or soul. For me, it’s often a quick midday Yoga session (as I often get a stiff neck from working on my computer the whole day) or a guided meditation. It helps me restore balance.
- Break traditions and propose an alternative to your loved ones – less is more.
Do you really need to buy 3 gifts for everyone? In my family, we had this relatively mindless tradition to go a little crazy for Christmas. We never consciously said or planned to do so, but everyone seemed to outdo themselves and went a bit more extravagant every year.
As 2020 came with its pandemic, I believe many of us started to rethink our values and, with it, also our (spending) habits.
One of my goals was to become more minimalistic. I will never be a full-on minimalist, but I think twice now before buying something as I do not wish to acquire more and more stuff over the years.
If your family also likes to go overboard for Christmas, suggest cutting down on spending so much for, let’s be real, often not very useful gifts. Instead, propose to donate to, in my case, the local animal shelter in your name.
- Are you stuck in the checkout line? Try Breathwork.
Instead of reaching for your cell phone, take a really deep breath while you wait; Inhale deeply through your nose, hold your breath – and slowly exhale through your mouth. Do this two or three times in a row. You don’t need a yoga mat for conscious breathing. You can breathe consciously at any time and in any place. Change your perspective and see it as a gift of time for yourself.
- Love baking those delicious Christmas cookies? Prepare your dough in advance and freeze it.
To simplify your baking during the Christmas season, prepare your dough in advance and freeze it. If you do this in portions, you will always have fresh cookie dough on hand throughout the Christmas season and can process the dough when it is thawed and bake it fresh. Not all cookie dough is suitable for freezing, though, and you need to consider thawing in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can bake the cookies in advance and then defrost them during the Christmas season.
Let me know what some of your favorite tips are and how you’re feeling about the Holiday season.
Warm hugs from snowy Estonia,