For so many of us the holidays are more about endless entertaining, nonstop errands, frenetic gift buying and lots of stress. In fact most of us know how to give to others, but not enough about giving ourselves the gift of ease and relaxation. Mammoth to-do lists, department store and post office lines, invitation sending, extra choir practice, marathon cooking and baking sessions, major decorating, and other seasonal activities tend to turn up the volume on stress and tension so that you just can’t hear much else.
This year, why not take some time to treat yourself like the family and friends you cherish and dote on all year. Responsibilities withstanding, who says that dizzying two month-long dash to New Year’s can’t be peppered with some occasional “me time.”
For starters, hiring a weekly maid service during the season may seem like a luxury. But having a really clean house to come home to after a long day of shopping, chauffeuring, planning, and seasonal errands–without having to worry about piles of laundry, a grimy bathtub or wielding the vacuum up and down the stairs–can provide a psychological boost, not to mention freeing you up to decorate with the family around steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
When planning holiday get-togethers with friends, streamlining the process by using an online invitation service like Evite, Paperless Post, Punchbowl, and others, many of which are free and allow you to customize by including your own photos, select music, design an RSVP and more, will save money, a few trees, and that precious commodity known as time (yours!).
An “errand share” with friends is another way to cut down on stress and pressure during the holidays. On days you might be saddled with carpools, doctor’s appointments, extra work at the office, etc., coordinating with friends to help pick up your child, drop off or pick up dry cleaning, grab a few essentials at the market you might have run out of, etc. is a good way to slow it down. Simply decide on a day when you might have a little more time and can return the favor.
When the pace quickens and holiday deadlines loom, it’s always a temptation to grab that calorie-laden, high fat burger and fries, order a gut-busting pizza, microwave a tub of frozen lasagna or maybe even skip meals and snack on handfuls of Christmas candy and cookies instead. At this time of year, maintaining health and energy levels in light of colder temperatures, inclement weather, and overall holiday stress is imperative. A personal chef–perhaps one who cooks ahead for a week and drops off nutritious, balanced, freezable meals–may just be the answer to your dinner dilemma and lack of time. Add a green salad and some fresh fruit for dessert, and keep your blood sugar, fiber, vitamin, and nutrient levels constant.
Also, while many of us enjoy baking up traditional holiday treats and desserts, with jobs, kids, errands, holiday shopping and more the process can become more of a chore than it may have been for great grandma Edna, who rarely left the kitchen. With all the rich, delicious, festively decorated baked goods available at this time of year, no one would fault you if you went ahead and purchased some for parties or as gifts for friends and family. In fact they may thank you!
When it comes time to relax, watching holiday movies with the family is always fun. But to please yourself (endorphin levels do much to alleviate stress), this year why not choose a title or two you loved from your own childhood–something that reminds you of an easier, carefree time. Perhaps you and your own mom and dad or friends went to the movies to see “Ernest Saves Christmas,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Prancer,” “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” or “Home Alone” (the first one!), and recalling that time makes you feel good inside. Experts tell us the occasional trip down memory lane can be like a mini-vacation, so why not treat yourself to one.
Finally, setting aside an hour a week or even every couple of weeks during this time of year for a yoga class, spa facial or massage can work wonders for the whole body…and the soul. Surrounded by low lights, soft fragrances and oils, and capable hands that soothe and heal, a facial or massage can relax you like nothing else. And yoga works to simultaneously refuel and relax you. At the very least, making sure you soak in a fragrant, silky tub with some tranquil music and candles, even for 20 minutes when everyone has gone to bed, can help remove the so-called kinks from your neck, back, and shoulders (where most people hold their stress), easing you into a sublime slumber. Visions of sugar plums, anyone?!
In truth we could all use a little help during the holidays, and helping yourself to a little “me time” just may be the key to getting through the season in optimal form!