The other day I walked into Costco, took a look at the crowd, and turned right around.
Crowds stress me out. Traffic really does me in.
During the holiday season I have be extra careful because it doesn’t take much to push me overboard. The way I know I’m getting stressed is when I feel like I can’t catch my breath. The condition is called Hyperventilation Syndrome. I used to experience it a lot thirty years ago when I was in college, but now I rarely do.
I have to be very proactive about keeping my zen.
I don’t know if I’m wired in a particularly sensitive way, or if I’ve just learned to tune in to my needs much quicker than I used to.
These are the must haves on my daily list–everything else is scheduled around these:
*Coffee – Oh, how I love my Illy, which is 30% off right now at World Market
*Exercise – If you’ve read my books you know I have a saying: “I get to go exercise.” It’s also my #1 recommendation to my clients. For me, exercise is like a big ol’ anti-anxiety pill. I’m not overly obsessive about my weight. I pretty much eat what I want and even though I know I should lose 20 pounds, in general, I use exercise for my mental health more than my physical health. Each day I walk for 45 – 60 minutes, and I add a mix or yoga or swimming to most days.
*Quiet Time – Often I get this when my husband travels. I almost always get it because I wake up before John does. And finally, I get to set my own work schedule so I make sure I have lots of alone time to be creative, read, and think.
*Sleep – Seven or eight hours each night
*Time in the Bible – Right now I’m teaching a class at my church so I spend many hours a week digging into the scriptures, listening to worship music, and watching informative videos.
*Time with people – I am around people all day, either in my yoga class, or with the clients I see, or meeting my husband or friends for lunch. With my husband, I’m a stickler about Sunday Night Date Night. We usually watch a show and snuggle under the covers.
I really don’t like shopping except for books. Some of the ways I cut down on driving and running errands is to take advantage of Amazon and Amazon Prime for Christmas shopping and AmazonFresh for grocery delivery. We’ve be using meal delivery from Green Chef for for several years now (we’ve been getting the Keto plan). I recently started using Stitch Fix. I’m loving it. You fill out your style online, then a personal shopper sends you five items once a month. If you take all five you get a 25% discount on all. If you don’t like anything you just pop the clothes into the bag and send them back. Their clothes are high quality and very cute. You can even make special comments like, “I’d like something dressy for Christmas.”
The other thing that really helps me is to have a mission statement. It can be really simple like mine: Be true to the people who matter most. That way if I have a conflict, like someone I barely know wants to do lunch, someone else wants me to do a podcast, my bible study is coming up, company is coming, and my daughter wants me to watch Rosalie. I’m almost always going to pick Rosalie first. Of course, I need to be flexible but it helps to have a template.
At Christmas I have my three “must do’s” because they keep the focus on Christmas; then I can say no to everything else. Here are my three events:
*Colorado Christian University’s Christmas Music Department puts on the most wonderful production. It helps that they hold the concert at the church I attend.
*My friend Judy and her daughter Sharla have been hosting a brunch for many years. They LOVE Christmas and Judy’s home is covered in Christmas fair. We pile presents in the center of the room and play the Secret Santa game while eating the most decadent food. We laugh and focus on the reason for the season.
*My church puts on a huge Christmas production with skits, costumes, music, and drama. It’s always a special time.
This year I’m adding one more “must do” to my list. I’m going to decorate sugar cookies with my granddaughter. Nesting with Grace has a yummy-looking recipe with cream cheese frosting. Of course I ordered the sprinkles from Amazon.
How do you keep your holidays from becoming stressful?
Would you share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below?
Lucille Zimmerman is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a private practice in Littleton, CO and an affiliate faculty teacher at Colorado Christian University.
She is also the author of Renewed: Finding Your Inner Happy in an Overwhelmed World. Through practical ideas and relatable anecdotes, readers can better understand their strengths and their passions—and address some of the underlying struggles or hurts that make them want to keep busy or minister to others to the detriment of themselves. Renewed can help nurture those areas of women’s lives to use them better for work, family, and service. It gives readers permission to examine where they spend their energy and time, and learn to set limits and listen to “that inner voice."