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Celebrating a stress free Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house the stress was palpable and Mom was a nervous wreck. While it’s definitely not the ending we all anticipated it is a reality that many of us will be stressed beyond measure as we gather for Christmas Day celebrations. But how do we de-stress and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas?

Get everyone in on the act. Older children can wrap presents, chop vegetables, set the table and pour beverages. My mother in-law routinely asks me is there anything she can do to help. Generally, I say no but due to the sheer number of tasks around this time of the year, I oblige. Grandma is great help in the kitchen and caring for younger children, i.e keeping them away from the tree. While that task may seem simple, it can help to de-escalate stress levels immensely.

Take care of yourself. Get some rest and listen to your body. If you are tired, get some rest. A nap can do wonders for stress and help you to re-charge, and provide your body the much needed energy to handle all situations. Confession: I am not a happy camper when I don’t get enough rest. I am more irritable and generally no fun to be around. It also helps to move a little. It may seem like you are moving constantly, but concentrated physical activity, such as walking, increases the heart rate and can be therapeutic.

If it’s not perfect it’s OK. We all want to have the most entertaining, best-food- I- ever- tasted celebration possible. In reality, something will probably go awry. The less than perfect dish (yes, I forgot it was in the oven), the forgotten cranberry sauce, spikes in glucose, and the pop-up guest can send stress levels through the roof. In times like these, I literally take five minutes (even if it’s locked in the bathroom) just to gather my thoughts and breathe. Generally, I am calmer, more clear headed and often find the humor in myself and my wacky loved ones.

Plan ahead. If you are a “list person” like myself, a quick list does wonders. You can literally make a list for anything. A seating chart, grocery list (don’t forget the batteries), gift list etc. Sometimes I make a list of things I will most likely forget. Planning helps you to remain calm, especially when — if — something doesn’t go as planned.

Remember the reason for the season. Christmas is about love, peace and kindness. During this hectic time of shopping, guest arrivals and general frenzy, I take solace in knowing that I am blessed and happy. Merry Christmas Middle Georgia!

Keishon J. Thomas, Family Consumer Sciences County Agent, UGA Extension-NW District, Macon.

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