We are now in the season considered the most stressful- the Christmas Season!

I know that for many, the celebrations start at Halloween. I myself, am not a Halloween person because of all the scary costumes out there. It takes me back to my childhood days in Jamaica, hearing those ghost stories told by adults who believed them, and in some instances gave personal accounts of the encounters.

Growing up in a culture riddled with superstitions about ghosts, spirits and black cats, have me making the sign of the cross when Halloween comes, even though there are some very cute, benign costumes. What I am saying then is that my holiday season starts at Thanksgiving, and the preparations leading up to it.

As of today, Thanksgiving Eve, my stress level has gone up exponentially, and it is not even Turkey Day yet. Planning the meal and the day, with the possibility of a power outage because of where we live in the Inland Empire, has me trying to figure out how I will do it if in fact we lose electricity, and my generator is not yet set up.

This Thanksgiving, we will be staying home, and hopefully our son comes over. Just the two of us is not as stressful as some of my friends and relatives who will be hosting 10 or more people for the day. My husband likes the traditional Thanksgiving meal cooked Jamaican style, so I have been collecting Jamaican condiments. My stress started here because there is no Jamaican market near our home.

So, how am I trying to unwind, so that by the time Christmas comes around I am not a wreck, and I have become Mrs. Grinch? I think about a few of my favorite things. Tried and true things that have relaxed me in the past, and even the present.

Recently, I was reminded by an article or someone saying that in taking care of ourselves, we sometimes have to become selfish. When I first heard the statement, it felt uncomfortable to be selfish. This translated in me telling myself that it was okay to withdraw from activities and drama, and to make time for myself when my stress level was rising. I came up with a list of things I enjoyed doing that really worked.

As the list pertains to Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, it is applicable to any holiday, celebration, or activity that induce stress. Here goes:

  • Plan your To Do List making room for things not going as planned. This way when the unexpected happens, your equilibrium is not off center.
  • Plan to not get caught up in negativity from others around.
  • Make a list of some of the songs you like listening to that bring calm to your spirit. I have found instrumental songs relax my body and mind. Listening to these songs without words do not cause my brain to work hard processing lyrics. One of my favorite albums is, “Romantic Jazz Nights-Most Relaxing Jazz Piano..(2015).
  • Watching a movie. Mostly ‘Rom Coms’, or anything that cause me to laugh, or say, “A-h-h.”
  • Doing Find a Word puzzles. When I am searching for words amidst the jumble of letters, and finding the word, makes me feel victorious, and accomplished, and this brings a sense of peace to my soul and spirit.
  • Interestingly, I sometimes grab a drill, hammer, or some tool to fix a picture, change something, or just improve on something previously made or repaired me, and this calms me.
  • Grabbing a glass of wine, or more recently a glass of Baileys Irish Cream, send me into the “selfish” zone because there, the only thing I think about is my body relaxing and everyone around me fades into the shadow.
  • The most relaxing action I perform is drawing myself a very hot bath. I light my scented candles, turn on my music, pour essential oils(lavender, eucalyptus, peppermint), Epsom salts, dried flowers and anything else that strikes my fancy, and just soak everything away. I will also have that glass of Baileys or wine I previously mentioned, this is the “piece de resistance” and I am in heaven!
Piece de Resistance

It is very important to determine what you can do to relax or unwind before the need arises because when the situation pops up as it will, the overwhelm can send you into a tailspin.

This season is all about spending time with loved ones, and giving ourselves and gifts to those we love. We all know that even though we love our family, relatives and friends, so many personalities in one place can sometimes be cataclysmic, and this will spoil the moments.

As the women in our homes responsible for making the plans and executing them as a well oiled machine, the pressure is on us to make everything well. It is very important for us to take care of ourselves so we can take care of everyone else. I encourage you to try these relaxing techniques that have been helping me unwind and deal with stresses for many years. Try them if you do not already use them. Our loved ones, and mental health are relying on us!

I'm Valerie Darlington, a Jamaican born blogger, entrepreneur, wanna be philanthropist and writer, with a MBA in Healthcare. My forte is history and research. I am obsessed with researching and finding the best, most effective way to accomplish any task set before me. I am on a journey - committed to finding the best, productive, and most fun way to live after doing the parenting thing, and caring for elder parents ( I have so much experience here). I am committed to helping you, the mature woman figure out and do the same with the "what nexts?" of your life.

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