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Published on December 06, 2018

family ice skating

A Simpler, Healthier Approach to Christmas

With a long to-do list that begins in November and continues through January, the Christmas season can conjure stress rather than the joy, peace and hope we’re supposed to feel.

“The never-ending gift buying, the cookie decorating, the holiday party celebrations in addition to the daily stresses that we face create a time of year that many struggle with from a physical, emotional, financial and mental well-being perspective,” said Amanda Harty, Director of Well-Being Services for Avera Health Plans.

If you feel stretched to the max, and have a schedule filled to the rafters, it’s time to shift your focus of being everything to everyone and back to the reason for the season: celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and spending time with loved ones.

Back to the Basics

Here are some basic tips to help you simplify the holidays:

  • Set realistic expectations to minimize the disappointment that comes when you expect perfection.
  • Decorate just a little less. Rather than decorate every corner of the house with lights, build a snowman or go ice skating together.
  • Stay in the moment by removing distractions (e.g., electronics, phones) from your environment when others are around.
  • Give yourself permission to say “no.” You don’t have to attend every Christmas party or community event.
  • Make a budget to help guide your holiday spending and prevent a shocking checking account or credit card balance once the holidays are over.

A Note About Gifts

One of the most stressful parts of the holiday season is the shopping — and all the hours spent in lines, parking lots and navigating the crowds. Simplify your family’s gift-giving. Some ideas may include one large family gift or a guideline that every family member gets just three gifts (something fun, something to wear and something to read).

Ask your children to choose a couple of old toys to donate, or have your child pick out something for a local wish tree.

“The way you approach gifts can reshape the way your family thinks about not only Christmas, but getting stuff in general,” said Harty. “Create givers, not getters. Focus on experience and time with family, not stuff.”

Don’t Forget Your Health

Designate a doable amount of time in your schedule each day or week to take care of yourself. The lights and tinsel seem less sparkly when you’re feeling sluggish. When the holiday pressure is on, make sure you’re also honoring the following:

  • Sleep – Get at least seven hours of sleep. When you’re in bed going through Facebook (and Twitter and Instagram) one last time, put the smartphone down. Seriously, just do it!
  • Food – Holiday goodies in the office will happen. Limit yourself to eating only your favorite treat. Or, make a rule that you can choose one treat a week — not every day!
  • Exercise – As your schedule fills up, your workout might be the first thing on the chopping block. Take mundane moments during your day and turn them into action! Walk during lunch, stand while on the phone, or do floor exercises between the commercials of televised Christmas movies.

“Draw your attention to the true blessing that Christmas was intended to be about,” said Harty. “Remember the beautiful hymn, Silent Night — ‘all is calm, all is bright.’ That is my wish to you this holiday season.”

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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