“I’ve always loved Christmas, but as a mom, it’s a lot of work. In between the wrapping, the shopping, the cooking, the decorating, there’s almost no time to actually enjoy it.” So goes the voiceover from Mila Kunis’ character in the trailer for “A Bad Mom’s Christmas.”
Okay, so I’m not a mom (and neither do I intend to be one anytime soon, Tita), but I can relate to that.
As I write this, I’m monitoring the delivery of a couple of presents to my friends’ families, reviewing the grocery list for my family’s Christmas dinner on Sunday, and thinking about whether to keep my food cart open this weekend or to close it for the holidays, all while dealing with a tension headache that makes the veins in my neck throb like an EDM concert on acid. Yowch.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one feeling like this. With all the year-end responsibilities that come with being an adult, we almost forget to actually enjoy the holiday for what it is. So, what sorts of things can we do in order to take a step back and center ourselves?
1. Take a walk.
The rhythm and repetition that comes with walking can be quite soothing for a frazzled mind, and walking briskly for a good half-hour every day can help decrease your anxiety and improve your sleep quality.
2. When life gives you lemons, stop and smell them.
Literally. Citrus fragrances can boost your feelings of well-being because it triggers your body’s production of norepinephrine, which is one of the hormones that affects your mood.
To maximize the benefits of citrus fruits, you can savor the fragrance of an orange as you peel it, or dab a bit of lemon essential oil on your handkerchief and reach for it anytime you’re feeling the pinch.
3. Resist the urge to overschedule.
Protect any unscheduled time in your calendar, and use that to regroup between tasks, deadlines, and yes, even parties. Ideally, allot one night in for each one you need to spend working overtime or attending a get-together.
Try not to fit too much into one day too (I myself am guilty of this), and don’t beat yourself up if it takes you longer to get things done.
4. Delegate whenever you can.
If you’re hosting a party, tell your guests to just bring a simple appetizer or dessert rather than bringing a hostess gift (which often isn’t to your taste anyway).
If you work in an office and have an assistant or two, you can also mobilize them to pick up your presents or wrap them up for you while you shuttle between meetings. On that note, having your kids and your spouse help you out in preparing Christmas dinner not only makes the tasks involved less arduous, but it can even serve as a genuine opportunity for familial bonding.
5. Screw perfection.
Regardless of what your mother or your mother-in-law says, the world won’t come screeching to a halt if dinner is served a few minutes late or if the house looks a little cluttered.
I hate to say this, but try not to sweat the small stuff and focus instead on enjoying the people in your life.
6. Go off-grid.
One downside of living in the Information Age is that our handy gadgets keep us on perpetual fight-or-flight mode (e.g., feeling the urge to fire off replies to several people at once, getting constant updates on shipments, emails, or bank transactions, etc).
While convenient, this can also feel make us feel highly stressed-out, so you may want to unplug on your quiet nights in or when you’re at a party. This ought to help you relax more and to actually be present in the moment.
7. Take some honey for an instant kick.
They don’t call it nature’s most perfect food for nothing. Dark honey is especially packed with antioxidants and is chock-full of antibacterial properties that can improve your immunity.
This super food also replenishes energy levels, so the next time you feel like your inner batteries are running low, dip a piece of fruit into some honey for a quick, fiber-rich, and energizing snack.
8. Listen to your favorite song.
Whether it’s “Christmas in Our Hearts” (really??) or, I dunno, “Despacito” (REALLY???), hearing music you love relaxes your blood vessels and increases your blood flow. The overall effect is that you feel much calmer, and it’s great for your heart too.
Pro-tip: Put on your favorite playlist when doing mundane things like wrapping gifts, chopping vegetables, or washing dishes. It can significantly lighten the mood, and you may even end up enjoying the task at hand.
The holidays are indeed the season of giving, but self-care is often left out of the equation. Thus, let’s not forget to be kind to ourselves this Christmas, if only because we can’t take care of others if we can’t do the same for our own person.
Right, I’m off to take some Advil and squeeze a nap in then.