Staff Blogger: Ellen Venema, Rhein Center Assistant Coordinator

 ‘Tis the season to be jolly!

And to visit family and friends.… give back to your community… decorate the house… keep track of the kids while they’re on school break… finish all those year-end work projects… wait in long lines with other last-minute shoppers… and prepare that amazing meal that everyone expects (and critiques) while accomplishing a whole host of other little everyday things.

That’s a lot to fit into a season!

We may sing about the joy of the holidays and start out with the best intentions, but our schedules and to-do lists often snowball into mountains of stress and distraction, leading us away from the core spirit of the season.

If you find yourself headed in an unhealthy direction this year, slow down, take a deep breath and remember that tending to your own well-being is just as important as the rest of the list.

First, write down everything you think you need to do before the New Year. Then, take some time to center yourself, and decide which items on your list are the most important and which are either unnecessary or unnecessarily stressful. Arrange your list by priority, cross out unnecessary items and simplify the extra-stressful tasks.

Do you really need to send Christmas cards to every person you’ve ever met? Whittle down your list and use the extra time for relaxing with your family. Start writing as early as possible to cross this task off your list early.

Do you really need to impress everyone by planning and executing a 5-star gourmet meal completely on your own? If so, adjust your other holiday plans to ease your stress level as you move through your marathon cooking session.

If not, recruit a couple trusted sous chefs or delegate a dish or presentation task to each invitee. Maybe you have an artistic grandchild who would love the opportunity to decorate and set the table. (I myself am not overly fond of turkey responsibilities, but I take pride in my nearly 20 years as designated Cookie Plate Display Artist.)

And of course, don’t forget to treat yourself. That could mean committing to a weekly church service, spending time by a fireplace with hot cocoa or taking a brisk, stress-relieving winter stroll along Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile.

Through it all, remember to sustain yourself with healthy greens and proteins. Those holiday sweets are great in moderation, but will inevitably cause a sugar crash if you rely on them for fuel. Staying on top of your overall wellness (mind, body and spirit) will give you the best chance of keeping your holiday stress level down.

Prioritizing might mean choosing between having the best light display and catching the best sledding day with the kids, but rest assured, that the less stressed you are, the happier those memories will be.

What choices will you make to keep your holidays happy?