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so much happening

In addition to the Christmas decorations we are putting up, baked goods we are making, and Christmas movies we are watching, we also have three birthdays this month! One will be four on December 11, one will turn two on December 15, and my hubby’s is December 29! There is so much that goes on! We have turned the kitchen dining area into a wintery Nutcracker themed birthday area with silver snow, white trees, pink, white, and silver stars on a slim tree, and lights strung across the ceiling. It is pink but still carries the wintery theme like the rest of the house.

While the end of the year is full of parties and excitement, gifts, and maybe visits to see family, it carries stress along with it. Rushing is never fun and I see an increase in stress from clients this time of year. Simplifying life is truly a helpful answer for some relief.

What signs of stress do you find yourself in? Each individual’s frustration will impact the rest of the members of the household (or dorm room if you are a college girl). There is no way to completely eliminate stress but there are ways to minimize it. The following are ways to think about whether there is too much stress happening:

Lack of sleep. Sleep can be hard to find when stress rises. Lack of sleep can cause even more stress in addition to irritability. Trying to remember what needs to be done when trying to sleep and awakening with an already-behind to-do list is exhausting.

Irritability. Pressure can affect the family by magnified emotions and yelling. We all know stress causes short tempers. When each member of a household is stressed, it can be a super cranky atmosphere to live in.

Missing deadlines. One can only do so much. Stress can ruin the ability to complete tasks well or to even remember tasks in the first place. Nobody likes to feel so overwhelmed that they cannot remember whether they are coming or going.

Sickness. Stress takes a toll on everyone’s physical health no matter the age. Even small children can experience stomach aches or nightmares when tension is extreme. When the body is overstressed, the immune system has difficulty fighting illness.

Running. Everywhere. If it seems like a Home Alone rushing to the airport every moment of the day, life could be a little over-scheduled. Yikes! Headaches, tension, stomach aches are just a few symptoms to come from such a hectic routine.

What can people do to cope? The following are a few ways to begin simplifying life and relieving some stress symptoms:

Go to sleep earlier. Begin with 30 minutes. If there are children at home, put them into bed earlier as well. Everyone can benefit from a few extra minutes of rest that can heal bodies and minds and create more calm by lowering irritability.

When overwhelmed by to-do lists and deadlines, write them down on some sort of schedule book, whether paper or electronic device. My favorite is a large paper desk calendar under my laptop where I can write general major appointments, schedules, and more and even create a task list on the side margin. Yes, it is also colorful and matches my office, so that is a great bonus too. For smaller tasks to accomplish that may keep some up at night, write a list on a notepad before bedtime and set it aside, allowing for more restful sleep, knowing that list will be a faithful reminder the next day.

Attempt to eliminate irritability from rushing around by looking at the calendar for the month, write down each activity, and prioritize. If any activity is extra, cross it off, and only participate in what is necessary or enjoyable.

Incorporate fun stuff. Hallmark Christmas movies have been a great source of joy this season for me! Since we have access to the premieres, I printed off the schedule and have tried to record each one. With little ones at home, after they go to sleep is a perfect opportunity to get in some Christmas cheer, even if I am folding clothes, wrapping gifts, or falling asleep. There have been several I need to watch the end of after my eyes closed and I missed the lovely endings!

Make time for friends and family. Have supper at a table with family members or make time to meet up with friends. Keep conversation open, ask your people about the best and worst parts of their days. One meal around a table each day keeps everyone connected and communicating, which creates warmth and closeness at home.

Serve others. Bake cookies for neighbors, watch their mailboxes while neighbors are out of town. Avoid creating more stressful tasks and keep it simple. Break and bake cookies are just as meaningful as the Nestle Toll House homemade kind. Keep it fun and enjoyable.

God bless you in this season and may we remember that Jesus is the real reason we celebrate this time of year. Talk soon!



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