The Christmas season is upon us, and that means shopping, vacationing, spending time with family and probably preparing lots of delicious food. The holidays should be a time for rest and connection, so why do we so often find ourselves stressed and lonely? Here are a few tips to help you feel less stressed and find more enjoyment this holiday season.
1. Take a break from social media and the fear of missing out. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” When used correctly, social media is an amazing tool. However, we all know social media can be the source of comparison and feeling like everyone else is having a better time than you, and that’s just not true.
Jayanne Cook, Registered Nurse at JRMC’s Urgent Care, says, “Focus on your family more than things that other families are accomplishing or doing. Social media can take away contentment because it can make you want to be like everyone else, and you don’t need to be. You should be yourself.”
2. Stick to the budget. Did you have a budget for Christmas this year? If so, make it a priority not to exceed it, and let the ones you’re buying for (family, kids, etc.) know what to expect. It could be a good idea to put a cap on the number of presents you buy and let your child know that there aren’t exceptions.
Rebecca Pittillo, JRMC Executive Director of Marketing and Philanthropy, says, “Our first Christmas with our son Isaac brought lots of excitement, and we wanted him to always understand why we celebrate Christmas, so we started the first year giving him three gifts. Even though he didn’t understand at nine months, we still explained that baby Jesus received three gifts and he would too. Now at the age of 13, he knows to expect three gifts. It allows for a fun Christmas morning, but it keeps the focus on what’s most important – our time together and the birth of the Savior.”
3. Focus on the memories, not the stuff. How often are you given presents and a year or two down the road you can’t remember what you received? Try to focus on being with loved ones, making memories and enjoying one another’s company.
Matthew Bradley, JRMC Nutritional Services Service Representative, says, “This is important because of time. We can always have stuff, but time with family is very important because of the love you have for one another. You can never really put a price on family and love. You can never put a price on spending time with your loved ones. When somebody goes away for too long, you miss that person and there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to spend time with them.”
4. Give for the long-term. Each year, Americans invest untold amounts of money in gifts. Focus on giving gifts that will be used or remembered for years to come. While there is value in giving the trendy sweater or fun toy, try gifting a year of piano lessons or private soccer lessons, maybe even giving two tickets to see a play or a suitcase to take on adventures. These gifts might offer less instant gratification, but they bring more long-term enjoyment.
Katie Ferren, JRMC Marketing Specialist, says, “My parents still buy my siblings and me gifts for Christmas, and this year, my mom insisted that we ask for presents that would be repeatedly useful for years. I asked for a suitcase, and it’s already getting me excited about where I’ll go and what I’ll do in the coming years.”
5. Make rest a priority, and reduce the number of things you absolutely must do. You don’t have to host the party. You don’t have to cook the entire Christmas dinner. You don’t have to make commitments every night the weekend before Christmas. Try to release yourself from a sense of obligation and be honest about your limits, which sometimes means saying no.
Debbie Tole, JRMC Administrative Assistant, says, “Try to say no to at least one thing. The world will not come to an end if you do. Don’t stress – just enjoy the season.”
6. Delegate the tasks. So often, it seems one person is tasked with doing everything. Make it a priority to ask for help. Have kiddos? Involve them in the gift wrapping, cooking and cleaning. Try having a “Christmas Preparation Day” and snuggle up to watch a holiday movie when everything is done.
Jodie Howell, JRMC Director of Quality, says, “My daughter gets to help me wrap gifts. And while I’m cooking, my husband’s always very eager to help clean up, so he’s the cleanup crew. We always divvy up things, and we always try to make it fun. If we’re cooking a big meal or we have a ton of gifts to wrap or have to be somewhere in a hurry, we all just try to pick something and make sure that the load is even. Many hands make for light work.”
7. Do it ALL early.
- Cleaning: Try taking this weekend to get the house completely ready for Christmas. Especially if guests are coming in, you’ll enjoy their arrival much more if you’re not still cleaning an hour before they arrive. That way you have some time to rest and actually enjoy your guests rather than feeling exhausted when they arrive.
- Wrapping: Set a date for having every present bought and then another for having every present wrapped.
- Party! It could be a good idea to invite a few friends over and bake big batches of sweets. Swap recipes and help each other get all the desserts made a few days early. This can also be done with tree decorating, Christmas wrapping and other holiday tasks.
8. Put enjoyment over tradition. Is there something your family does every year that is “just what you do” but no one really enjoys it?
Susan Townsend, JRMC Wellness Center member and volunteer, says, “Get rid of the ‘perfect, just like it’s always been’ idea of Christmas. Embrace change – it will turn out great!”
9. Drop unnecessary expenses.
- If you’re taking family photos, don’t buy all new clothes for the whole family. Use what you have, because your style is awesome already, right? Also, try hiring out a student photographer or a friend. There are lots of people who want the opportunity to practice and will give a discount.
- Send an eCard instead of a Christmas card this year. It’s cheaper and can be sent to more people
10. Take time to enjoy the moment. Each night, try writing a list of three things you’re thankful for and want to remember. Slow down, rest and enjoy!
Mahogany Tolefree, JRMC Registered Nurse, says, “Christmas is a time to recharge and rejuvenate, spend time with your family and just live in the moment. In today’s world, everyone’s living in the ‘right now’ time. They want everything to be right now and to be perfect, and everything is not meant to be that way all the time. Sit back, relax and just enjoy the moment.”