Christmas, time of cheer, togetherness, and joy; however, for many, Christmas has become a time of anxiety, dread, and sleepless nights. We burn ourselves out long before Christmas Day and wonder why come the 25th we’re unable to enjoy the festivities. Add in some wracked up credit cards, food bloat, and ‘that’ relative, it can be a bit too much for most.
It doesn’t have to be this way though. A bit of planning, refocusing, and self-care can help bring back some of your merry.
Staying a float for the new year
- Decide who you want to give gifts to. It may be hard, but sometimes family’s expand and it becomes a becomes a bit much to buy everyone and their kids a gift. If you can afford to give it all, than go for it, but if your bank account is plunging out of obligation, then it’s time to relook the gift list.
- Once you know who to buy for, set a budget based on what you can afford. When I was a full-time student working part-time, my budget for immediate family members was anywhere from $5-$25 each. I had five people to buy for and couldn’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars. When I had more work, I could afford to spend a bit more, but it really helped to pre-set a maximum expenditure and avoid January regret when the bills came around
- Remember, your holiday budget isn’t just gifts, it’s food to bring to parties(or hosting an entire meal), it’s the gift wrap, and travel time. Perhaps even an office or classroom secret Santa. All of this should be accounted for
- Only use money that you actually have. Avoid using credit cards where possible, if your holiday budget comes straight out of pocket, it’s easier to be more mindful of where it goes, and avoid stacking up the debt
- Keep your receipts, just in case someone needs to exchange a gift Homemade gifts are often cheaper and fun to make. Unless you’re like me.. And you tried to crochet a scarf for your husband and ended up wanting to burn the yarn in retribution.. I am not crafty.. But if you are, it’s a great way to show love to those on your list! People genuinely appreciate the effort behind handmade gifts
- Recycle old gift bags and and paper shopping bags from the past year, avoid the waste of new packaging and maybe save a few trees
Healthy habits aren’t just for January first
- Your new year’s resolutions don’t have to begin in January, you can start building new habits earlier on and stand a better chance of keeping them through the next year
- Be mindful of what you are eating at all of the dinners and parties. Often calorie surplus sneaks in way before the table is even set for dinner. With snacks and Christmas baked goods leading up to the main event, it’s easy to spend the rest of the night in indigestion limbo. Try starting your day with a light healthy breakfast and mindfully consider each snack you come across for the remainder of the day. Christmas time is filled with indulgent treats, but overeating can lead to a variety of health concerns and discomfort. Don’t skip meals either in anticipation of an evening binge, eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re not.
- Stay active, it’s good for your health and helps with the calorie surplus if you decide to treat yourself. Walking after dinner also helps with digestion.
- Stay hydrated, dehydration is not pretty. Good water consumption can help clear your skin and help you to digest more efficiently
- Sleep, try to stick to your normal sleep routine where you can to keep your energy levels high
When in doubt self-care
It’s easy to over do it this time of year, work may be busier, and if you’re a student…finals likely burn you out on their own. So take a breather and relax when you can. For me it’s a sheet mask, deep conditioner, a Christmas movie, and either peppermint tea or hot chocolate. Here are a few fun ideas:
- Spa night, draw a bath, toss in a bath bomb, light a candle, and queue the music
- Make your favorite meal or dessert
- Attend a Christmas concert
- Read a book
- Watch your favorite Christmas movies in cozy pajamas
- Have fun with old family Christmas traditions
- And oddly enough, stay organized and on top of your daily work, it’s a lot less stressful when your space is tidy.
It also isn’t just about us
We often get wrapped up in the materialism and commercial nature of the holidays, but there are many people that can’t even consider the extras, because they’re struggling with the essentials
- Consider volunteering your time at a shelter
- Donate used clothing and toys to a verified charity
- Donate to the food bank
- Help a stranger on the street
- Perform random acts of kindness for those in your life, a neat idea can be found on the Girl Defined Blog
- Rather than buying gifts, consider spending time with relatives that may feel lonelier this time of year
- Pray for those you care about and those who are harder to be around. Rather than let the negative memories and feelings cloud you, instead redirect love their way.
And most importantly, remember the true meaning of Christmas
Christmas isn’t about gifts and food. It’s about the birth of our Savior, who came in human form for the redemption of mankind. It’s important to center our lives around this important fact, and prepare our hearts for true joy of Christmas:
- Read through the Nativity narratives found in Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2
- Complete an Advent Study
- Spend time in Prayer
- Attend a Christmas Eve service
- Participate in Christmas events and services at your church of choice
- Read through the Gospels, to rediscover and/or discover why Christ came to us all those years ago
I hope that some of these tips help you out this holiday season. We’re all different and what works for me, may work differently for others. Let me know in the comments how you stay chill this holiday season!