Stay Stress Free this Holiday Season

Holiday Stress

It started even earlier this year.   In September, on the store shelves, right next to the back-to-school supplies, were the flocked trees, reindeer and menorahs rushing the arrival of the holiday season.

Big family gatherings, elaborate feasts with all the trimmings, office parties, gifts, shopping, cleaning and decorating the house – where to start?  And where will it end?

Here’s an idea – let’s make this the year we focus on the “Happy” part of “Happy Holidays.”  With a few simple tweaks and turns, you can de-stress and make it less about “expensive stuff,” and more about “rich experiences.”

To prove this is a smart move, quick – think of three gifts you received during the holidays last season.  Now, think of three fun or meaningful things you DID with family or friends.  Do you still have all three gifts?  Can you even remember three?  But those memories of quality time shared with loved ones – THOSE are the things that warm your heart, make you smile, and cause waves of gratitude to flow over you.  So listen up.

Take it down a notch
If you’ve always over-exerted yourself to make sure everything is perfect, rein it in.  The old joke about how kids are more excited to play with the box than the toy that CAME in the box?  It’s true – on so many levels.  So the house isn’t spotless.  So the dishes don’t match.  So you don’t have a blindingly bright front yard light display.  So what?  It’s your love, affection and good humor that will illuminate the event.  Everything else is gravy.

What’s For Dinner
‘Gravy’ brings us to holiday meals.  Most of us have experienced more than a few post-dinner “food comas,” where we’re just too stuffed, uncomfortable and mentally foggy to do much of anything but collapse on the couch.  Besides the trauma this creates in our body, it doesn’t do a thing for our mind, emotions or spirit, either. 

If you’re planning a big meal, take the opportunity to introduce live, raw organic vegan foods you’ve enjoyed during your stay at the Optimum Health Institute (OHI).  Suggest everyone bring a lighter side dish, and challenge him or her to use only unprocessed ingredients.  End the meal with a sweet but healthy treat, like dried dates, cashews and unsweetened coconut blended together in the food processor, pressed into a pan and cut into bars.  There’s a great possibility your guests will be so interested in the novelty of the tasty new foods, and how great they feel after the meal, that they’ll want to eat light and healthy again.

Move It, Move It
Finally, instead of planting yourself in front of a television, make it a point to get moving.  A brisk walk in the middle of the day will let you soak up the winter sunshine, and help offset the depleted vitamin D levels associated with shorter days.  Stretching, or yoga, will help you balance your energies and feel more grounded.  In colder regions, sledding, ice-skating or even a brisk snowball fight are great ways to let off steam and celebrate the season.

Let’s DO Stuff!
Instead of giving a gift card, a tie or something else that will have little or no real meaning, take a little time to think of something specific the person on your gift list would enjoy doing.  Maybe it’s a massage, or a football game, a movie or volunteering to help others that are less fortunate.  Make THAT your gift, and go along with them. Or perhaps donating in your loved one’s name to a cause that he or she wholeheartedly believes in! This is where you are building happy memories, and strengthening ties.  It changes things, in a very good way.  Research from the Mayo Clinic indicates that investing in your relationships by nurturing them will boost happiness for both parties.

These tips, along with cultivating a constant state of gratitude for all your blessings, will definitely help you navigate the season with grace and joy.

Experience the beauty, serenity and fellowship of an OHI holiday retreat at the OHI missions in San Diego or Austin, Texas. Achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health, and get your New Year off to a healthy start. Visit us online at www.optimumhealth.org , or call us at (800) 993-4325 to make your reservation.