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Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Stressed? Sanity Savers Pt 1!

Kawartha Lakes Mums Guide to Unstressing Christmas!

Feeling Christmas Crunched? Christmas Gimmees driving you crazy? Stomach tied up tighter than any Christmas bow?
You're not alone.
Christmas can be a very stressful time for many people. Whether it's facing Christmas alone, being financially strapped, or ill during the holidays, Christmas can be very difficult for many people.
What can be done to relieve this stress? Plenty!
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image Kawartha Lakes Mums - Christmas Crunch Series Pt 1 Shows frazzled reindeer crashed t
Kawartha Lakes Mums - Christmas Crunch Series Pt 1
This post is the first in a series with tips and links to Christmas Sanity Saving resources to help relieve the Christmas Crunch. How can you maintain your sanity through the Christmas Crazies?
We asked Community Care for some links to ideas that may help, and sprinkled a few of our own sanity savers in for good measure. How do you maintain your sanity through the Christmas Crazies?

Surviving Christmas - Tips and Tricks to Stay Sane Through Stressful Holidays

For some of us, stressed is desserts spelled backwards, but eating as a method of coping with stress is definitely not good for the heart, and depending on what we consume, it can  cause even more stress.
Would a little more time help ease your stress?
Once your family is old enough, one solution, might be to give yourself the gift of more time, and begin a new holiday tradition of celebrating Christmas according to the Orthodox Christian Calendar. In 2014 Orthodox Christmas will be celebrated Tuesday, January 7th. 
Ryan Alexander of Community Care City of Kawartha Lakes suggested an excellent article about Christmas Stress from the Public Health Agency of Canada. We've added our two cents to their 9 Tips for easing Holiday Stress.

9 Tips for Easing Holiday Stress

Adapted from Public Health Agency of Canada
Experts say, stress is to modern life what precipitation is to the rain forest. Inevitable. The key to coping, particularly at holiday time, is knowing how to use stress to get energized and how to protect yourself from high anxiety.
"It's totally normal to feel stressed," confirms Richard Earle, PhD, Managing Director of The Canadian Institute of Stress/Hans Selye Foundation. In fact, as Canadian stress pioneer, Dr. Hans Selye, has pointed out, stress provides the "spice" in life. "There are the wonderful 'up' emotions created by stress but it's important to recognize that feelings like excitement come with the 'down' emotions too," explains Dr. Earle. 
Stress can lead to serious depression. Take this mini stress test. Are you experiencing any of these?
  • feelings of sadness or irritability 
  • a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy 
  • change in weight or appetite 
  • change in sleep patterns 
  • feelings of guilt 
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering and/or making decisions 
  • experiencing more fatigue or a lower level of activity experiencing more restlessness 
  • experiencing a loss of enjoyment 
  • feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness 
  • thoughts of suicide or death 
If you answered "yes" to five or more signs, lasting for more than three weeks, you may be suffering from clinical depression. See your physician.

9 Holiday Stress Busting Tips 

 1. Examine your expectations. Are your decorating, gifting and food plans something only Santa with 100 elves could pull off in 365 days? Are they geared towards the the energy or finances you had at a different time?
"All of us walk around with these fuzzy ideal images of how a great family holiday should be," notes Dr. Earle. "Down below these images are the images of how things are really going," he explains. "When the gap between the two images is really small, then what you're imagining can feel really motivating. When the gap between what you envision and what you really have is big, however, this creates a lot of stress." 
Are your expectations based on what you think others are expecting? Join the club. It doesn't have to be that way. A few days ago, I saw a great interview with New York Times best-selling author, Lysa TerKeust. Lisa TerKeurst, in The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands, challenges us to realize that for every "Yes", we're saying "No" to something else.
The Best Yes:Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
 Lysa, in her book, The Best Yes, offers thought provoking strategies to help us to break free of people pleasing, ... escape the shame and guilt of disappointing others... overcome the agony of hard choices...and rise above the rush of endless demands and discover our Best Yes today. The Best Yes - DaySpring 15.99 SALE Priced 12.99
2. Raise the real.   Create a goal oriented plan, and list the steps needed to achieve it. This can help keeping expectations realistic.How do you create the list?
Planning for a Stress-Free Christmas a .99 ebook by Mandi Ehman, includes a coupon code for a 70 page free printable Christmas and Thanksgiving planner. What a great resource!
Planning for a Stress-Free Christmas .99 by Mandi Ehman
3.Share your vision, and delegate, delegate, delegate. Personally, I'd always been frustrated by anti-stress lists suggesting delegating as the way to go through Christmas stress free, until I realized delegating doesn't have to mean delegating to just family members. For example, set it and forget it recipes like slice and bake cookies, or slow cooker recipes can be a huge sanity saver.Slow Cooker Christmas Recipes: Holiday Crockpot Recipes For A Wonderful, Stress-Free Christmas.  in the Simple Slow Cooker Series is an excellent resource.
Christmas Slow Cooker Recipes -Kindle Edition

Lone parents and others with zip budgets can delegate certain parts of Christmas in other ways too. Call local support agencies and churches, and see what's available. For example, many communities and churches are having free Christmas Dinners, the Santa Claus Stocking Fund can take care of Christmas Gifts for children15 and under, and the Salvation Army offers a Christmas Hamper program that families can register for through their local food bank.
Have family members you can delegate tasks to?
Get input from family and then nail down who's responsible for what. This eases uncertainty, one of the things that drives stress for everyone. When delegating, make it clear what their task is, and then forget about it.  Avoid micro-managing if the goal is having potatoes for dinner, accept whatever potato recipe Great Aunt Elmira decides to bring gratefully,  and you'll have more success with delegating in the future.
 4. Build a sense of fail-safe achievement. Having a huge to do list can be overwhelming Ask yourself, at the beginning of each day, "What two small things can I do that, no matter what else happens, will make it a good day for me?" Then do these two small things—such as ordering the turkey early—and congratulate yourself for achieving them. Another strategy is journalling what you accomplished during the day.You might be surprised at everything you achieved.
5. Stick to a budget. Budgeting can be difficult for families with zip budget to start with. Have a large family? Draw names or rotate names for gift giving.  Agree with your family to an overall amount of money and how it's going to be spent. Could you have a $0 Christmas? While you're at it, plan and budget for one enjoyable experience after the holiday as an antidote to "post-holiday blah's."
6.  Reach out to others. If you think your situation is tough, compare notes with friends. How are others coping? Not only may you discover you're actually coping rather well, but you may find yourself in the position of making a helpful suggestion or two.
"This is great for mental health," notes Dr. Earle, "Because when you act like a competent person, you feel like a competent person." 
7. Count your blessings. Remember those less fortunate. Volunteer in a seniors' home, children's hospital or soup kitchen for a few hours. Then set aside 10 minutes with your family and go through all the good things that have come your way this year.
"While human nature often has us dwelling on the down side of life," notes Dr. Earle, "When you look at your blessings, it raises hope that other good things will come." 
 8.Take charge mentally. Don't get sucked down the vortex of "awful-izing and catastrophizing". Instead, think of everything that could go well.
Then, don't spend another second worrying about the quarrel Uncle Milty and Aunt Marge are sure to have again this year. Instead, mentally rehearse how you're going to handle the situation when it comes back to haunt you.
"This will help prevent "wheel-spinning worry," says Dr. Earle. 
Or as my grandmother said "Worry is like a rocking chair - gives something to do, but it doesn't get you anywhere."
image Gramma Sez- Worry Quote Worry's like a rocking chair -Givew you somethin' t' do won't get you anywhere! Grandma in rocking chair
Gramma Sez- Worry Quote
 9. Do something nice for yourself. Take a break. After all, there should be something in the holiday for you, not just for everyone else. When I was a young mum, I discovered getting dressed up and enjoying a cup of tea in beautiful surroundings versus a fast food joint was only a few cents more, but much more rewarding. Schedule a post-party facial or pedicure. Take the dog for a long walk. Take in a movie you've been wanting to see. Even a small treat can make a difference. Stir your hot chocolate with a candy cane. Ask yourself what you can do to create more of a feeling of freedom and competence for yourself.
"Stress management really begins with taking yourself seriously in the best sense," points out Dr. Earle. In other words, are you getting out what you're putting in? There should be some return on your investment! If you have doubts, talk to your spouse or a friend to come up with some ideas about what will work best for you.
At the end of your rope?
Tie a knot and give these people a call - 4 County Crisis 1-866-995-9933 Toll free 24-7 Crisis Line serving City of Kawartha Lakes, Haliburton and Peterborough.
How do you keep Christmas Crazies under control?
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