Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Overcoming Anxiety at the Holidays

Photo: Psycharity

Even the most calm and organized among us can become overwhelmed with the extra obligations and demands the holidays bring, but overcoming anxiety and holiday stress is simple if you follow a few tricks.
Plan a budget and stick to it. Nothing causes more stress than racking up those credit card bills and stewing over how you will pay them after the holidays. Whatever your finances allow in the way of gift giving will be more than enough. Although the holidays have become overly commercialized, gift giving isn't the intended purpose of the celebrations.
Plan ahead. Undoubtedly there will be parties, school concerts and other engagements. Mark them on the calendar and decide when the agenda is full. Realistically, you'll never be able to attend every function, and it will reach a point when you'll have to start declining invitations. Running from place to place, trying to fit everything in, will quickly lead to a decline in your sanity.
Leave yourself plenty of time for shopping. Last-minute shopping with droves of bickering customers will wreak havoc on anyone's nerves. Start making purchases well in advance of the holidays, and avoid trips to the mall during peak shopping hours. Use the Web to shop and eliminate the stress of the mall altogether.
Remember to eat properly. Although you may be pressed for time and needing to grab meals on the go, your body still needs proper nourishment. Ensuring you're providing your body a well-balanced diet will help preserve your mental state.
Employ the help of others. You may be feeling the pressure of trying to accomplish everything yourself. Arm your spouse with a list, and send them into that jungle to pick up some items. Put your kids to work, and allow them to decorate, wrap gifts or whatever else they are capable of. You're only one person, not a super hero.
Don't overextend yourself. At this time of year it is nice to be generous by donating your time to a worthy cause, but there has to be a limit. As long as you keep obliging, they'll keep asking. Do your part and trust others will do theirs. Helping those in need is a noble quality, but, when it becomes all consuming, you can quickly burn out and become frazzled.
Allow yourself some down time. No matter what your busy schedule entails, your well-being is important, and you deserve some time to relax. Scheduling yourself for a massage is the ultimate stress eraser. Soak in a nice warm bath, or lay on the couch and read a book. It doesn't matter what you do, as long as your focus is totally on you.
If you're hosting a large gathering, don't attempt to prepare dinner for the multitudes on your own. Spending three days in the kitchen preparing the perfect meal is beyond stressful. It verges on insanity. Assigning everyone who's coming a dish to bring will make your life simpler and alleviate plenty of anxiety.
Celebrating the holidays should fill you with the joy and spirit of the season, not stress and anxiety. Ensuring you retain your peace of mind during this chaotic time will see you emerge from the holidays as jolly as Old Saint Nick himself.


The History of Christmas stocking

While no official documentation can trace the history of Christmas stockings, several legends told about the kindly Saint Nicholas inspired the tradition. Now, many Christians hang stockings in anticipation of a visit from St. Nick.
One legend tells of a poor man unable to provide dowries for his three daughters. Without a good marriage, the girls were doomed to a life of slavery and servitude. Saint Nicholas heard of their plight and secretly conspired to help them. In the tradition of the day, the girls would wash laundry, including socks, and hang the laundry up to dry by the fire overnight. Saint Nicholas is said to have secretly thrown a bag of gold into the house, and one bag wound up in each of the girls' stockings.
Worldwide, other origin stories focus more on children's shoes than on their stockings. One story about the origin of Christmas stockings can be traced back to France and the Netherlands. Dutch children would fill their wooden clogs with hay for Sintirklaas' horses. In the morning, the straw would be gone and small treats left in its place. Eventually, the tradition evolved into stockings by the fireplace.
Other shoe traditions from around the world have emerged. In Italy, children leave their shoes out on the night of Epiphany (January 6) for a good witch named La Befana to fill with treats. In Puerto Rico, children celebrate Three Kings Day and put flowers and leaves in small boxes for the wise men's camels. As different cultures moved to the United States, the customs and traditions merged over the years.
The Christmas stocking found a permanent place in Christmas tradition when Clement Clarke Moore's famous poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas" was published in 1822. In the verses, Moore mentions that, "the stockings were hung by the chimney with care / in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there." Later in the poem, St. Nicholas fills each stocking with toys and sweets.

Today, most Christmas stockings in the United States are produced commercially, and many feature different themes, such as animals, baby boys or girls, TV characters or simple Christmas themes. The stockings are only used at Christmas and most are personalized with the child's name