woman drinking coffee outside with holiday lights

Holiday Stress

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Is it now? Or do ya really feel stressed out? 

There are a lot of to-dos during this time of year. Especially as a parent! For those with families, I can honestly say from experience of having 4 kids, it was a hot mess. Making sure the kids got “their wish gift”, the same gift that every girl their age wanted… staying up until 2 am wrapping presents (after years, the bows and pretty never happened LOL), buying for families in need, baking for teachers farmers and all those we know and love, driving around delivering, holiday parties, kids getting sick, exhaustion… I’m not so sure it felt so wonderful while we were in it! 

woman drinking coffee outside with holiday lights

However, miracles happened when the kids were old enough and said, “Mom, “I don’t need anything”… Wait, what? Yes, that happened! It was truly the greatest gift and blessing to hear this! It didn’t happen overnight, but IT HAPPENED. What did we do to elicit this? The only thing I believe we did with them every year was to not only adopt families in need, we talked about it, let them read why the family we chose were in need and how cool it was we got to shop for them.  We would also go to our community’s annual Christmas wrap that Cheer for Children gathered tons of gifts for hundreds of families in need in our local towns. I believe the more we shared and talked about how blessed we were as a family, it showed them there were so many families in greater need of gifts than us. It sunk in… “what do I really need?’ 

Over the years, Tim and I would buy little gifts or things I know they needed, and the girls bought each other gifts. But now, at 29-35 years old, the girls decided this year to take it down another notch and have a gift exchange instead! Woah!  I continue to do my fun stocking stuffers, gifts with purpose. BUT, this year, we chose names out of a hat!  1 large gift and 1 small gift, keeping the cost at a fixed number. We will have a yummy brunch, play games hang out before we head over to Grandma’s house and then have a family dinner. Truly a holiday simplified. 

Holiday stress is about first acknowledging that it happens to the best of us. Managing stress is key. Maintaining healthy habits is huge especially now. When we get ourselves run down, tired, eat poorly, stop breathing, sleeping less we get exhausted. When the kids were young, I would inevitably get sick right after the Christmas. It was too much. Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I started doing it differently. Eating better was huge. Getting more rest. Stopped making the gifts so important, but focusing on the time spent together or writing a love note instead, donating in their honor. Making Christmas fun. Because in all honesty, once they would open their gifts, play with them for a hot second, they would be on to the next. LOL. Then we’d snuggle, play games, talk, eat and that was the real gift, time spent together. Experiences shared with family members, that IS the greatest gift.

So here are a few tips that have made my life a little easier, less stressful and helpful.

5 Tips for reducing holiday stress 

  1. Take a big deep breath in. Deep breathing is one of the greatest ways to reduce stress in a matter of seconds. It lowers our fight and flight stress response from a 10 down to a 1 is seconds.  Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to our brain stimulating our parasympathetic nervous system which promotes a state of calmness. It connects us to our body and takes our mind off from the worry and quiets our mind.  Try this: Stop, sit and take 5-10 deep breaths when you find yourself all wound up, feeling anxious, depressed, or overwhelmed.  
  2. Take a warm bath or shower to wash off the day. It helps with sleep too! Add a few drops of lavender essential oil into the bath or rub a lavender lotion all over your body! Lavender oil helps with relaxation and so much more!  
  3. Start planning your holiday meals now. What to eat and cook can be a huge stressor. Organize the majority of your meals for the rest of the December. Know what recipes you will make on Xmas, Hanukkah and New Years Eve. WE have lots of ideas for you! Christmas dinner is lasagna and or spaghetti squash casserole salad and garlic bread are what we make. And we prep it all ahead of time! Hanukkah is all about brisket and potato latkes. And New Years Eve… Lobster dinner! Haha, our once a year treat! Psst, there are so many yummy recipes found in Damn Good Gluten Free the cookbook ☺ 
  4. Know best measures to take to prevent colds and flu from getting to you. Sugar is a huge culprit as is dairy and all those delicious treats! 
  5. Keep it as simple as possible. Less is more is a constant reminder I tell myself. Nothing has to be fancy or over the top. Take time for yourself. Even if it’s a walk or a cup of tea. Sit and relax, call a friend. Connecting with a friend who helps you relax, you know that person.  

This holiday season might be the year you and your family decide to make some mini changes about gift giving and gift sharing. Asking the questions, what do we really need? What can we do as a family to help other families in need? Take time and teach your kids about philanthropy. It’s part of our parenting job. If we don’t educate our kids, who will?  I say make it a fun experience. Volunteer with your kids. There are so many cool opportunities and experiences out there. 

Since the organization that helped the families in our community closed its doors after 30 years of service, we continue to give to non-profits that matter to us. We’ve discovered some great new ones. Education plays a big part in where we choose our impact.  GrowingGreat, empowers kids to make healthy food choices through hands-on science and garden education. For our planet Grades of Green empowers the next generation of environmental leaders on a global level. Planet Bee Foundation teaching about the importance of bees as a pathway to STEM, conservation and innovations in agriculture. Kiss the Ground whose mission is to awaken and inspire participation in the regenerative farming movement through education, workshops, immersive programs and advocacy. Richstone Family Center creates safe and resilient families in which children can grow and thrive. Thrive in Joy encourages young people to discover their character strengths and the joy of service through programs inspired by the life of Nick Fagnano. The Jimmy Miller Foundation provides ocean therapy to Veterans and at-risk youth from local shelter facilities. 

Go! Have so much fun and love on your family and friends this holiday season ditching the holiday stress! Enjoy delicious holiday meals and consider the time you spend together as the greatest gift you can share. 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukkah, and a Happy New Year! 

With the greatest of love and gratitude,

Megs and Pegs

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