Are you feeling stressed out about running your Christmas errands (and doesn’t the verb “running” already describe the reason so well?!)? About stressed-out people taking it out on others with road rage or nagging in long supermarket lines? Are you hoping to just get the holidays over and done with? Though you really love them and are looking forward to them each and every year anew? Then, maybe, you should step back a little from what you are doing now, breathe deeply, and get yourself a little break.
Maybe, you just need to look back on your achievements this year. No, forget about numbers or sizes or prizes. Maybe you look back on the people you made smile. On the people you gave some love. Or whom you didn’t even like, but made an effort for. Look back at what made you smile. I am almost willing to bet these were all things you wouldn’t have been able to buy or to compete about.
Who really cares how big your Christmas tree is (or even if you have one)? It is you who is going to celebrate with or without it. Whose business is it how heavy your turkey or ham is and how many side you make? Stress less about it – most of us have way more than enough on their tables anyhow. Rather than think of all the things you ought to do with the left-overs … make less from the start. Who says that it has to be ham or turkey anyhow? You are the one making and eating it. And everyone at your table will be happy about a meal to enjoy together. Who cares how big, how many, or how expensive your Christmas gifts are going to be? Set yourselves a limit. You don’t have to go into debt because a jeweler offers you their friendship. You don’t have to rush after every fad just because your friends tell you that you have to have this and that (I have had enough of such in my past, thank you!).
So, sit back and reflect what you wish most for during your holidays. Then make yourself a list of what you really need to do in order to achieve this. Then have a piece of chocolate or a cracker with cheese. Breathe! Life is only as stressful as we let ourselves make it. And a lot of the holiday stress is home-made, believe me.
Another wonderful remedy against stress is – a walk. Again: Stop thinking competition. It doesn’t matter how long or how fast, as long as you do it for yourself. Leave your smart phone at home; the world will keep on turning without it, and you don’t need to be available 24/7. Don’t most of us remember when phones were screwed to the wall? We made outings and traveled without carry-around phones, and nobody was the worse for it either side of the line.
Leave your MP3 player a home. Enjoy the silence. Or rather: Enjoy the sounds of Nature. Can you discern birds by their call? Is there a brook murmuring somewhere in the woods? Hear the lapping of waves against the shores? Are these children laughing? Do you hear the wind whispering in the branches of the mighty trees around here?
Breathe in deeply and smell. This time of year, the air is tangy with the decay of leaves and fruit, but also spicy with the fragrance of evergreens and rain. It clears your nose. It chills your cheeks. Maybe you started out walking with your hands in your coat pockets or gloved, and by now you are warm enough to move your hands freely.
Enjoy the colors of winter – the reds and yellows of some left-over leaves in trees, the shape of cattails in the swampier parts of this lake, the shiny white berries in that bush over there. How your path is curving through the underbrush. How the lake ripples where a duck just dove…
Excuses not to walk are made easily. And I know them too well. It’s cold and rainy outside? Bundle up, take an umbrella. If there are no people around, the greater the tranquility. You’ve got no time? Ah, think of all the hours you are spending twittering or being on Facebook, about watching meaningless soaps or just flipping through TV channels. Take part of that and turn it into a walk. By the time you are in the middle of it, I promise you that a sense of pride and balance will begin to take over in you. You are doing something for yourself. You have the time to be with yourself, clear your plans, reflect your strategies.
I have found the bleakest, rainiest days here in Washington often the most rewarding ones for a walk. When the vapor over Waughop Lake rises and the ducks huddle in the reeds. When the first snow flakes whirl over the barren land of the Nisqually Reach. When fog envelopes the islands between Chambers Bay and the other side of the Sound. Coming back, all refreshed, I find that my values have been reset to “normal” again and that I do have time and tranquility for my Christmas preparations after all. I just need to kick my shins harder to step outside my door more often.