No matter how much we may love seeing family, celebrating together, giving and receiving gifts, the holidays are stressful for everyone. Frustrations mount, arguments ensue, and before you know it, you are dreading the end of December.
It doesn't have to be this way. To keep your sanity during Santa time, try these three basic tips for emotional balance.
1. Resist the temptation to over-extend
You really don't have to attend every party you are invited to. You don't have to send out tons of cards or buy gifts for everyone you've ever spoken to during the year. It's okay not to decorate the house with every gizmo in the store, and you don't need to scour the malls for the perfect outfit.
In other words, say no more than usual. You're allowed to decline invitations. You have permission to not reciprocate. You'll be forgiven for not burning up electricity on excessive lighting.
Focus instead on doing only as much as make you happy and adds to your energy. Let the rest go. You'll have much less stress, be able to fully enjoy what you do choose to do, and won't end the year in unnecessary debt.
2. Get more sleep
Sleep is essential for good health and good mood, and yet it is often the first thing we sacrifice during the holidays.
Think of sleep as the number one gift to yourself that also gives the best of you to your family. When you are well rested, you'll be much better able to deal with the in-laws and all the kids and noise that might otherwise get on your nerves.
Getting enough sleep will also help you make better choices, especially nutritional ones. You won't be trying to stay awake by eating all the goodies you see.
3. Eat sensibly throughout the day
Speaking of eating, holidays are notorious for being focused around over-eating. And after that comes the guilt. While many grandmother show their love through heaping servings of carbohydrate-rich platters of special holiday dishes, make sure you don't skip meals earlier in the day to save room for it all.
High quality protein for breakfast will help keep anxiety low throughout the morning. A small salad with more protein for lunch will help you feel good in body and mind, and won't spoil that festive feast later on.
When your body feels good, and has an abundance of energy, your moods will be stable and not over-reactive to the inevitable triggers that come with dinner with relatives.
You can do this -- resist, rest enough and make sure you have some healthy foods throughout the day. Your emotions and your relatives will thank you.