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    The Little Lights Aren’t Twinkling, and It’s Ok

    The holiday season is upon us! We love it! Mostly. We love turkey day, the colorful lights that follow, the impending joy, the anticipation of the big day, the smiles on small children’s faces, the fun family get togethers, church services, giant meals, lots of desserts, shopping, making life magical for wee ones, the elf if you are a glutton for punishment…. Suddenly I need a nap. So. With all this food and love and light and joy stuffed into four and a half weeks, I’m not sure how us planners of all things holiday don’t end up needing the entire month of January to recover. But nope-we get to ring in the new year and head right on back to work the day after in complete and total post-holiday exhaustion.  But we do it because we love it, and we love our families, and we love the happiness it brings.

    And while we do love it, it can be too much sometimes. Hey, you, the creator of the magic; what do you do to take care of yourself during the cranberry crazy and the well-lit lunacy? When you feel like you cannot take one more dig from your mother in law, one more complaint from the now overly sarcastic adolescent, or one more attempt from Great Aunt Lela to teach you how to starch the doilies she gave you but you ungratefully don’t display? Here are a few ways to reduce the stress in your ho-ho-holiday.

    • Breathe deep. I know it sounds cliché. But taking deep breaths, and often, gives your brain more oxygen and calms your fight or flight response that was created when your dog got into your laundry basket and ran around with your underwear in his mouth. Breathing deep into your belly and slowly exhaling calms your nervous system and allows you to feel centered again.
    • Meditation. Take 15 minutes to yourself twice a day to sit somewhere quiet and relax. Listen to a guided meditation for stress relief or simply sit in your dark closet and listen to absolutely nothing. If you need meditation, check out Effing Breathe on Apple podcasts or Anchor. This podcast has several meditations that will give you the break you deserve, and it will guide you on some deep breathing at the same time.
    • Yoga. Whether you are an experienced yogi or a super green newbie, yoga increases blood flow, provides physical pain relief, reduces stress, improves mental health, improves mood, and can help you sleep better. Stick a sign on your bedroom door that says “Namaste” and tell the family you’ve earned 30 minutes to yourself.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no. You cannot do it all. If someone makes a request of you that doesn’t fit in your day, say no. It’s ok if they get mad. As my mom would say, they can get glad in the same pants they got mad in. You are allowed to place some boundaries; this is your holiday too. Don’t overwhelm yourself to the point where it’s no longer fun for you. Remember that episode of Friends where Monica made three different kinds of potatoes to keep everyone happy? Don’t do that. Her kitchen almost burned down. Just sayin’.
    • Ask for help. Look, we all must lean on each other from time to time. Delegate that dinner menu. Everyone is eating, right? Everyone can bring something. Most successful ventures involve a team. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Justice League, Teen Titans, The Get-A-Long Gang, Powerpuff Girls, The A-Team, and Charlie’s Angels all had to work together to get anything accomplished. Just one Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle doesn’t get much done. Do you think Scoobie Doo could figure out who is behind the g-g-g-ghost encounters by himself? Ok, so these might not be real people. But I pity the fool who tries to prepare an entire meal for 25 on their own. It is simply unnecessary. And don’t let everyone leave without helping clean up. Dakota can help load the dishwasher, Vern can run the vacuum, and Linda can load the fridge with leftovers. Honestly, they probably want to help.
    • Proactively look for signs of overwhelm. Sometimes we don’t even realize how stressed we are until we completely lose our mind over something like our shirt getting stuck on a doorknob. (I know, that’s annoying, but not adult tantrum annoying). Pay attention to your emotional thermometer and maybe watch a few funny cats on Tik Tok when the mercury begins to rise.
    • Roll with it. Nothing is perfect, including you. Imperfect things will happen this holiday season and the next and the next and the next. Packages might not arrive, dishes might get broken, Uncle Tim might get wasted and make crude remarks about your neighbor, and the sweet potato casserole might come out of the oven runny. It’s ok. We are perfectly imperfect. It’s what keeps things interesting. Find a way to laugh it all the way off, and in the words of Steve Winwood, roll with it, baby. Not only is it not worth crying over spilled nog, you’ll enjoy your time with family and friends so much more if you can find the funny.
    • ‘Tis the season to remember why we say ‘tis the season. The holidays are for family, friends, love, laughter, magic, togetherness, traditions, and spiritual significance. We gather to enjoy each other and pay reverence to the things we find meaningful. All things stressy can take hike. We have no room at the table for that. Peace out, negativity. See ya never.

    Wishing you all a wonderful four and a half weeks of whatever it is that makes you all aglow. Take care of you, and you’ll be even better at taking care of those you love, too.