Can we please ditch the expectation that the holiday season is always fun and relaxing?
There *are* those unicorn years when we get to go where we dream, see whomever we like, eat whatever we want, and feel genuinely jolly...
...but for the most part, the emperor has no clothes — not even a red suit with white fur trim.
Holidays are usually stress-idays — coordinating travel, getting time off from work, finessing ancient family feuds, wrangling wild kids, and coping with the nightmare of post-Halloween shopping malls — the whole mess can cause more anxiety than any other time of year.
Just surviving — much less making merry — can seem nearly impossible.
5 Tips for a Truly Merry Holiday
If renting an off-the-grid cabin in the Yukon and waiting it out isn't an option, here are five steps you can take to help combat holiday stress – and even have a good time doing it.
1. Get your body moving
By now, everyone knows exercise is excellent for combating stress and anxiety. It boosts the production of endorphins, the brain's natural feel-good chemicals, and improves sleep, which helps you face the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
For our purposes, though, exercise has another positive benefit – getting you out of the house. "I'm going for a run" or "Doesn’t a hike in the woods sound nice?" or "Hey kids, time for a game of street hockey" are perfectly acceptable holiday-time excuses for not staying in stressful situations.
2. Establish a home away from home – away from home
If you're visiting relatives, and you can afford it, consider springing for a hotel room or other rental. Sometimes this could cause interpersonal friction, but you might find it's worth a little negotiation to have a retreat available when family pressures get to be too much.
3. Have your love keep you warm
Speaking of interpersonal friction, there's another well-known stress reliever that becomes a lot more feasible when you have your own space: sex.
Whether it’s solo or with a partner, a wham-bam quickie or a leisurely, indulgent afternoon session, physical intimacy can be one of the best de-stressors known to humanity.
And it's much easier to relax and enjoy if you're not worried about Aunt Martha walking in on you when she gets lost on her way to the guest bathroom. (Some people get off on getting it on in their childhood bedrooms. More power to them, but the point stands.)
Whether you’re luxuriating in private or sneaking around, don’t forget the natural lube.
4. Consider an herbal assist
There's a pile of anecdotal evidence that supports CBD's stress-relieving properties. In fact, your uncle Arthur may already be flinging CBD gummies around the party like confetti. Beyond what your friends and family might be saying about how CBD has helped them, there's actually a lot of good science and sound research on the benefits of CBD for stress and anxiety – good news for anyone negotiating holiday mayhem.
So if your mind is feeling taxed – and you've asked your doctor whether you can take it safely – supplementing with CBD may help keep you on the level, at holiday time or anytime.
But how you take CBD, and what dose, is important.
Choose a high-quality broad-spectrum CBD oil like Wellness Tonic with CBD and swish the oil around your mouth for fast absorption and the best efficacy.
Or consider a CBD vaporizer. Sneaking out behind the garage for a few puffs can make you feel like a kid again — and isn't that what's supposed to happen during the holidays?
Important note: Getting arrested at the airport is a great way to ruin the holidays. Although hemp has been legalized federally, some states and local police are still a bit zealous about seizures and testing of CBD products.
If you’re traveling with CBD, make sure the manufacturer provides a Certificate of Analysis that shows the product contains no THC — many also print “Free of THC” on the packaging to help reassure friendly police officers.
And if international travel is on the agenda, check local laws carefully.
5. Change it up
If you’ve been doing the same thing for ages – seeing the same people and staying the same places simply because that’s how you’ve always done it – consider reimagining your approach to the holidays altogether, even if it’s just for this year.
Perhaps volunteer for an organization you believe in, travel somewhere that celebrates holidays differently, or only attend part of the big family fandango and spend the rest of your vacation at home catching up on binge-worthy TV.
It isn’t always possible to make everyone happy — and trying to make everyone happy can be a major source of holiday stress — so make sure you have some commitment-free time, book an appointment or two with a good therapist if you need some extra help, and go easy on yourself.
And skip Uncle Arthur’s gummies. They won’t work as well as CBD oil, and they’re full of sugar – save your sugar allowance for that one holiday dessert you know how to make better than anyone.
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