Can you feel it? That high-energy, go-go-go, overwhelming buzz that takes over this time of year? Ah, Christmas spirit.
Christmas spirit, my butt. Christmas stress would probably be a lot more accurate. If people answered the question “how are you?” honestly this time of year, it’s pretty likely the answer would be along the lines of “busy, exhausted, stressed“.
I’m feeling it, although by all rights, I don’t feel like I have reason to be. I mean, I’m twenty-five, living with my parents, with minimal presents to shop for. I’d hate to see the state I’d be in if I had kids to buy presents for, a house to decorate, and an entire turkey dinner to plan (on top of all the regular adult stress-y things). Must be something in the air – the stress just seeps in.
I guess it’s understandable why we get so overcome at Christmas though. There’s a never-ending list of things to worry about “getting right” – buying the perfect present, decorating a Martha-Stewart-approved tree, planning and hosting a peaceful family gathering (y’know, with no angry debates-turned-fights-turned-grudges around the dinner table!). Leading up to the big day there’s a to-do list that just keeps growing, and it’s easy to wear yourself out trying to keep up with it all.
But what good are you going to be to anyone if you’re exhausted and stressed to the max (and probably pretty irritable as a result of that)? Everything else can be perfect, but what good is that if you’re too worn-out to enjoy it? That adage “you can’t pour from an empty cup” is true – you can’t spread Christmas joy to everyone else if you haven’t got any yourself. Amidst all the errands and shopping and prep-work of the season, you’ve still got to find time for you.
And I know – it’s a busy time of the year. The calendar fills up overwhelmingly quickly once December comes around, and it’s easy to let things you enjoy fall to the wayside. The self-care, good-for-your-soul, little things that make you happy can get pushed aside in favour of “more important” things that come up. Case-in-point: there was a noticeable number of people missing from my yoga class last night.
Just sayin’, but I know without my yoga time I’d be a life-size, Emily-shaped bag of stress. So during Christmas, and any other time that is particularly stressful, making sure I get to my yoga classes is a priority.
There’s a Zen proverb that tells us “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you are too busy. Then you should sit for an hour”. (damn right, I’m giving you two lame lil’ quotes this post!)
With all the pre-holiday hustle and bustle, that’s important. You’ve just got to take a few minutes of your day to take care of yourself; breathe, un-hunch your shoulders, relax. Christmas doesn’t have to be an endless stress headache, as long as your mental health on that to-do list. If that means going to your weekly yoga class, do that. If getting to a studio just isn’t gonna happen, maybe try a quick at-home Youtube yoga flow (I posted this one a few weeks ago, hope to have another up soon!). But it doesn’t have to be yoga, or mediation, or anything even similar to that. Just find something that brings you a bit of peace and makes your day a bit better, and do that.
And besides that, try not to stress too much. Christmas is still Christmas, even if the tree tips over or the kids run wild. Even if you zone out so much during your meditation that the turkey burns to a crisp. At some point it’ll be a funny story.
I hope the holidays bring you many hugs, lots of laughter, a belly-full of yummy holiday treats, and most especially, minimal stress.