By Joseph Fairchild
’Tis The Season
It’s so hard to believe the holidays are upon us, isn’t it? Thanksgiving 2019 has come and gone, and 2020 is just around the corner.
What comes to mind when you think of the holidays? Is it holiday traditions handed down or developed over the years? Memories of holidays past? People you have loved and lost? Delicious food you enjoy each year? Seeing people you don’t see very often?
One thing many of us associate to the holidays, regardless of faith or upbringing, is giving. While a source of joy in many respects, it can also cause frustration or resentment. It seems that every time you turn around, someone somewhere is asking for a donation or gift. What to do? While the answer isn’t quite so simple, here are a few ideas:
- Just say no: It is ok to say no. Co-workers or well meaning friends and family want to exchange gifts, and we don’t want to seem cheap or miss out on the fun. At the same time, we participate – sometimes begrudgingly- though we are really just “going through the motions.” When you give or participate, doesn’t it feel much better when it’s done from a place of enthusiasm instead of compulsion? This isn’t to say don’t join in the activities – just re-consider the gift exchange piece of it. Maybe you can plan a weekend away or nice meal out and enjoy relaxing time together instead.
2. Be mindful about your approach: give some thought to they causes that are most important to you. Which organizations match your personal values? Who is doing the work you want to support? Reserve your giving to those charities.
3. Research the organizations you plan to donate to: this is especially important if you plan to donate a sizable amount (and only you can decide what sizable means). Established charities can provide annual reports upon request (they may be available on their website). These annual reports show how much the organization received, and how they use their money. Be wary of organizations that don’t invest most of their money in program expenses- those expenses used to provide the actual services to end users.
4. Involve your family: our children often amaze us don’t they? Even those times it seems like they are not paying attention, they watch us closely. Why not teach them by example? Some children are so inherently generous this comes naturally to them.
5. Take a little time to give to yourself, too: for some, this is a struggle and it doesn’t feel quite right. This does not mean you have to buy yourself an expensive gift or go away for the weekend. It means you do something you enjoy, just for yourself, no matter how small, that will bring you joy during the holidays. And guess what? Those around you will feel it too. Isn’t it easier to give something you have in abundance?
Just like over eating or drinking too much alcohol, giving too much can make us sick, too. Please keep this in mind and don’t “give until it hurts.”
- With 20 years experience in the financial industry, Joseph Fairchild loves to help others make sound financial decisions. He is an amazing husband to Dr. Brenda and father to Madelyn.
While the bells are jingling and the gifts are being purchased, many people tend to hold an underlying stress throughout the festive season.
The increased stress load throughout the holidays can affect:
Your overall health
Your mental health
Your Wallet (You know it’s true)
Stress decreases the body’s lymphocytes (the white blood cells that help fight off infection). The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold and cold sores. High stress levels can also cause depression and anxiety, leading to higher levels of inflammation. In the long-term, sustained, high levels of inflammation point to an overworked, over-tired immune system that can’t properly protect you. While the holidays are only a brief period of time, the body quickly jumps into this state of panic and can fall deep into the rabbit hole of feeling off.
Your kids will be out on winter break from school soon, family gatherings are on the calendar, the gift list is a mile long, forget trying to get enough food in the house to feed everyone. Somehow, it all falls on you to pull everything off without a hiccup. Perfect decorations, polished china, fluffy bows, and a tree worthy of a magazine cover – despite your sanity flying out of the window.
Take a breath.
You can do this – without the extreme stress.
Dr. Brenda’s Holiday Happiness Guide
Keeping yourself mentally balanced will help you work through stressors as they are presented to you. A mind at peace will be able to more clearly problem solve and enjoy the process.
If you are not one who enjoys the holidays due to the stress, consider removing the largest stressors from your plans. Cancel family plans, give giftcards instead of packages, curl up in PJ’s and order your meal to be delivered – and eat on paper plates. You will stay sane, happy, and healthier than forcing yourself to follow through with your typical holiday expectations.
Anything you can do weeks in advanced? Get it done. You want to already have the majority of your list crossed off before the rush of the season arrives.
Turn on Music or Podcasts
Have sounds in the background that keep your mind on positive things.
See Your Chiropractor
Being adjusted regularly can help reduce your stress levels.
Find 20-30 minutes each day to burn extra calories, even if that means squatting while basting the turkey. Your exercise endorphins will help you stay happy.
Turn Off the Screens
Smart phones, TVs, pads, etc. all trigger the brain to feel inflamed, fatigued, and disrupted. Limit your exposure.
You can have groceries delivered. You can order gifts online. You can schedule your calendar via voice command. Use these features to make your life easier.
Take Your Supplements
Keep your immune system ready to do battle by keeping on your regular supplement schedule, possibly increasing vitamin D and probiotics.
Laugh with your loved ones throughout the day. Do silly things without holding back.
Try to get more sleep, but if that is not possible, just give yourself a timeout to regroup and refocus – or completely take your mind off of everything.
Have a Budget and a Plan
Most holiday stress revolves around finances and extended family. Take the time to put a budget in place and stick to it as best as you can. Hunt for gift deals, but don’t feel pressured to over-purchase.
When all else fails, walk away for 10 minutes. You can disappear into a bathroom, take a walk around the block with your dog, FaceTime your best friend across the country, or meditate. You always need to put the oxygen mask on yourself first.