By now, holiday mayhem is peaking. Smart holiday shoppers are closing in on their gift list for family and friends. Our local online company, Amazon, has made it easier to shop from home, resulting in less mall crawling and braving the crowds.
But that doesn't mean that holiday stress is over.
A recent study of 283,014 cases of heart attacks over a period of 16 years found that there is a 37% increased risk of having a heart attack on Christmas eve! The researchers used two weeks before and two weeks after Christmas as the baseline to measure the increased risk on Christmas Eve. What gives?
While researchers can’t say what causes this increased risk, they speculate that holiday stress could be a factor. Other studies have indicated that elevated experiences of anger, grief, and stress can increase the risk of heart attacks in vulnerable individuals.
How can we approach this holiday period with greater calm, comfort, and care?
Have realistic expectations.
Striving for the perfect holiday meal, experience, and day is a recipe for stress and anxiety. What if you come down with a cold two days before Christmas? What if the toy your child wants is out of stock? What if the electricity goes out due to a wind storm? What if the wonderful meal you plan doesn't turn out the way you hoped?
Let go of seeking perfection—instead, accept things as they come and let go of your expectations.
Don’t drink too much.
In some families, when everyone gets together, underground family tensions rise to the surface. Uncle Joe who can’t stand Aunt Millie starts to drink away his irritation with gin and tonics. Before you know it, he starts to say what he thinks—Not a good idea! Too much alcohol can be a recipe for disaster.
Sigh—credit cards enable holiday celebrators to buy now and pay later. But that growing credit card bill with a crazy interest rate just puts off the inevitable. In the good old days, banks used to sponsor Christmas savings clubs that start in January and build up cash for the next holiday.
Be reasonable. Don’t add unnecessary stress to your festive holiday! It’s about connecting with friends and family—not about the cash value of gifts given or received.
Take time to exercise.
Take some time to walk or go to the gym. I know the weather stinks this time of year—but so what! We live in the beautiful Northwest, where everything is green. Put on your rain gear and head outside. You won’t regret taking a 30-minute walk in the middle of your holiday preparations.
Take a hot bath.
During this damp and cold time of year take a long soak in the bathtub. Throw in some Lavender Epson Salts to warm and relax your tight muscles. Light a couple of candles and let your tensions melt away.
Remember what’s important.
Don’t get distracted by other’s expectations, everyone else’s needs, or your own hopes. What’s important to you about the holidays? What do you want to celebrate? Stay focused on the big picture.
And then sit back, and enjoy!