Tips for getting through the seasonPublished 10:46am Thursday, December 8, 2011
Column: Thanks for Listening
The holiday season is upon us now, and as I have in the past, I want to help you with a few solid reminders that I hope will help you get through this season happy and healthy.
First, the holiday season is a time for great cheer but also of reflection. You may miss a parent or a grandparent who was so special to you while you were growing up. This special person might have done something each holiday season that you will always remember and cherish.
During this season, please take the following steps to secure the precious history of your friends and family and the treasures they all hold.
1. Talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Ask questions about your family traditions and stories about your parents and grandparents youth.
2. Take this information down. Today’s technologies have allowed us to video-record, take photos, write and preserve our family’s histories better than at any time in our history. Take advantage of this.
3. Buy a hope chest. Keep family heirlooms, photos and heartwarming family memories in an important area. Log information on your computer and catalog important events.
You might not see this as a huge deal now, but, trust me, in time you will. Someone in your family will want to carry on the traditions you had and it could be that beautiful baby daughter or son that you are holding right now. When these younger generations get older, they will have questions about the past and what a shame it would be to not have that information for them. Please take the time and record your families now. You will not regret it.
Also during the holidays, stress is at its peak, and it’s hard to stop and regroup. I checked with the Mayo Clinic on some great ways to relieve stress and they shared the following:
1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, email messages or videos.
4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someone’s name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
7. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
8. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
I like No. 9 the best because who does not need to take a little time to oneself. I love taking a quick fifteen-minute nap when I can. It just refreshes you. I also love music as it puts me in a great mood. I hope these tips have been helpful.
One last holiday tip from me is to pay it forward during the next few weeks. Give a gift to the less fortunate, throw some money in the local kettle or donate to Toys for Tots. It all goes a long way. We have United Way, Salvation Army, Red Cross and many other great places to help pay it forward.
Tribune Publisher Scott Schmeltzer’s column appears every Thursday.