I'm no Scrooge, really. I love the Holiday Season! Admittedly though, there is no avoiding the ghost of Christmas stress, especially for those of us who are parents. Not only do we want everything to be festive and fun for our kids, but increasing demands on our time coincide exactly with mid-winter breaks from school. You suddenly find yourself trying to be at work (you are needed now more than ever), home (no one wants to leave the kids with a babysitter at Christmas-time), and in the shopping mall (looking for that perfect gift for your husband's great Aunt Mildred)--all at once. Heap on some holiday meal planning and cooking, a few obligatory social events, and one or two mid-night gift wrapping sessions, and it's honestly enough to bring out a little Ebenezer in any of us.
So, before you reach the brink of bah-humbug-ness, treat yourself to a respite from the holiday chaos. A bit of time outdoors can do wonders. Even if the weather outside is frightful, fresh air and vitamin D can go a long way to recharge your inner battery. Bundle up and go out for a walk or don a pair of snowshoes and take a short hike. If you are lucky enough to live in a wintery wonderland, take the kids sledding or ice-skating, just an hour or so will usually do the trick. You (and the kids) will return feeling revitalized. Then enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or spiced cider.
After the kids have gone to bed, treat yourself to a hot bath, or read a book. In essence, change gears and clear the demands of the season from your mind, if only for a moment. It is important to take care of your body, especially during times of heightened stress. Avoid stress-induced binges on holiday goodies, and make sure you are getting enough sleep. (I know, easier said than done, right?) Regular exercise will help maintain a healthier mind and body, and doesn't have to be a big time commitment. Just 20 minutes a day of yoga, stretching and/or a simple walk will help keep you on track this season.
A healthier you will be a happier you, which in turn, will make for a happier everyone around you. Try to stay in the moment and share in your children's happiness; a mindful state of being (attention focused on the present) has been clinically proven to relieve emotional and physical stress, lead to a more positive way of thinking, and improve immune functions, sleep habits and overall mood, (Brown, Ryan and Creswell, 2007.) Maria Montessori knew that health and joy could be found through focused attention:
"Joy, feeling one’s own value, being appreciated and loved by others, feeling useful and capable of production are all factors of enormous value for the human soul. "~ Dr. Maria Montessori