YOUR GUIDE TO A
STRESS-LESS HOLIDAY SEASON
by Susie Michelle Cortright, http://www.momscape.com
Three years ago, I was so calm and
relaxed, you'd never have
guessed it was Christmas. I had a brand new baby, and we
had just moved into a new house, but I was grounded with
an overwhelming sense of peace. Now that another holiday
season is bearing down on us, I think back to the reasons
that time was so magical.
That year, we simply went into our backyard and picked
out a crooked little tree that just screamed "Baby's First
Christmas." I tied on some bows, and we invited our closest
friends and relatives to share some Friendship Tea, sugar
cookies, and prime rib (which my mother-in-law brought and
prepared.) We opened gifts that I had ordered online weeks
before. (They arrived gift-wrapped.) It was a low-cost
Christmas spent in our unfurnished living room, but you
would have been hard-pressed to find a merrier place
When we renew our focus on the holiday spirit, the stress
of the season begins to fade. This year, let us pledge
to align our personal goals to reflect the goal of the
holiday season as it has existed for centuries: to center
on our spiritual awareness and connectedness in this
When professional organizers urge us to simplify, they
ask us to eliminate our time-wasters. This year, let us
find some time-wasters.
Particularly during the busy holiday season, we moms
too often feel that if we aren't busy doing something,
we aren't being of value. In the upcoming months,
consider the value of just lounging on
the couch with your kids, of playing a board game, of
reading the Christmas Box or The Story of Hanukkah
aloud in the evening, or of simply sitting around for awhile
thinking about how lucky you are for the family and friends
that are yours.
Meanwhile, take a close look at your self-made holiday to-do's.
Is it necessary to bake enough goodies for the neighborhood,
or are you okay with just whipping up the occasional batch of
Rice Krispie Treats? Do you want to travel to a distant relative's house on
Christmas Day or ask that they come to you? Keep in mind that the mere fact that
you've always done something isn't always a good argument for continuing to do
This year, narrow your Christmas card list. Make it more
personal. Follow the lead of Mitten Strings for God author
Katrina Kenison and make your annual Christmas letter less
about the accomplishments of your family members and more
about the ways you have all connected with one another over
the past year.
Meanwhile, reframe the way you perceive the task. Think of
it not as a tedious chore that involves long hours of licking
envelopes and signing your name, but as a way to illustrate
your love for your family and friends and to reconnect with
the people whom you may have contact with only once each year.
One last note: start early. That way, it's a relaxed process
that only requires you to jot a note or two in the evening as
you sit with your family. Also consider enlisting the help
of your husband and the kids. Little ones love to help
moisten envelopes or draw pictures for relatives. If you
run out of time - or the motivation - to send cards, pick
up the phone instead.
Parties can be as laid-back or as lavish as you like. Don't
underestimate the power of a potluck. - guests love to feel
like they're contributing to a meal. No time to deep clean?
Speed clean and dim the lights. Keep a stash of things on hand
for latecomers or unannounced guests.
Helping someone in need can relieve holiday stress and
help you ward off the holiday blues that sometimes seep
in this time of year.
Particularly during the holidays, opportunities abound.
Just look in your local paper. On the Internet, Volunteermatch
can set you up with an opportunity or idea with your specific skills in mind.
Be good to yourself.
If you don't sit back and enjoy all of the fa-la-las, they'll
be over before you know it. Savor the season, and remember
that you set the tone for your family. If you're frenzied
and frantic, your family will be too, and your children will
grow up thinking that's what the holidays are all about.
If you are feeling anxious this time of year, release your
feelings into a journal. Maintain, or start, an exercise
program to release those energy-boosting endorphins, and
make sure you're eating for energy.
Spend some time on yourself. Invite your friends or
your daughter's friends (or both) for an indulgent
Spa Evening. Prepare some homemade facial scrubs and
masks and let the stress of the season melt away.
In the end, it's important to decide what the Christmas
season means to you. I know my favorite time of the
season isn't opening gifts or filling goodie baskets
or attending office parties. It's that three minutes
it takes on Christmas Eve to sing "Silent Night" by
candlelight. It's looking around to see all of my
family and friends with their faces lit up just enough
that I can see their eyes glisten. To me, that's Christmas.
What is it to you?
About the Author:
Susie Michelle Cortright is the author of More Energy
for Moms and the founder of Momscape.com. She is a
writer and full-time mom whose passion is helping
women celebrate and embrace their role as mothers.
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