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Destressing for the Holidays

We all know what it's like to feel the pressures of the holidays slowly creeping up on us. Thanksgiving comes and goes, and we're immediately thrust into the holiday mentality before we're even done eating the turkey. Retail stores and tv advertisements promote holiday and Black Friday sales weeks before Thanksgiving can even get here. Christmas trees are in some retailers by October. I mean, when you have stores like JC Penney showing a woman leaving the dinner table on Thanksgiving to hit up those Black Friday deals, it's no wonder we all feel exhausted and forced into the consumerism cycle that promotes shopping under pressure over spending quality time with family, and, you know...

ENJOYING THE HOLIDAYS. 

Probably best not to go the Michael Scott route, yeah?

Here's a list of the best ways to relax and destress yourself this holiday season, courtesy of your local Youth Services Library Assistants Jessica and Sofia, and Youth Services Librarian, Brittany. :)

ONLINE SHOPPING  In past years, I was not a fan of online holiday shopping. I felt like it took away the fun of going out to the stores, seeing the displays, being a part of the holiday shopping crowd. It was a process but an inevitable part of the holiday season, and I usually loved it and looked forward to it. However, as times change, every new holiday season seems busier and more hectic than the last. Age is probably contributing to that (I don't think any of us have the patience we had growing up). But when you are forced to drive with everyone else on the road and constantly feel at risk of a car accident because of how congested it is to buy that sweater for grandma, it kind of sucks the fun out of it. Now, online shopping is probably as streamlined as it has ever been with apps added into the mix. Many retailers have made it simple to do online shopping on-the-go, price compare online if you are in the store, and allow you to buy online and do a free pickup in-store to avoid some of the chaos (try Kohls). If you'd rather cozy up in your pj's and shop for the family, not to mention take advantage of those cyber Monday deals, online shopping is the way to go.

MEDITATION This was highly suggested by Brittany and one of her personal favorite methods to destress. Finding time in your day to just breathe and clear your mind is incredibly helpful to slow your body down and not become too overstimulated with all the holiday buzz. You can take time at home to sit and clear your thoughts, listen to some music that calms you down (try to avoid that Black Sabbath or Metallica for a bit...hard for a metalhead like me to suggest!), or simply do some deep breaths and think positively for a few minutes while sitting in your car between shopping at different stores. Brittany personally uses a couple meditation apps to aid in her experience: "Meditation and Relaxation: Guided Meditation" on the Google Play Store, and an app called "Calm." Both can be downloaded on your phone, computer, or tablet off an app store.

BAKING Okay, I know we're in the season of overindulgence and realizing we might not fit in those jeans anymore come January, but this one is still fun and definitely a good way to wind down. Another suggestion from Brittany, baking is a mind-consuming process that forces you to focus on what you're doing and not think about much else, let alone what's stressing you out. Instead, you get into the rhythm of kneading dough, mixing ingredients, paying attention to the oven so your cookies don't burn; ultimately, this leads to becoming more relaxed and promotes other relaxing activities, like reading or watching movies while your goodies bake. And who hasn't smelled chocolate chip cookies or an apple pie baking and been in a bad mood, right?

TREAT YOURSELF

Image result for treat yo self parks and rec meme

Yes, this may be the season of giving, but don't forget about yourself! Whenever Sofia begins to feel stressed out, she pampers herself by getting her nails done, something she enjoys. Whatever this may be for you, whether it's treating yourself to some ice cream, an experience, or that cute pair of boots you've been eyeing, don't hesitate to indulge every once in a while. There is definitely a responsible way to treat yourself and an irresponsible way. If you're constantly spending more money that you can afford and doing it in the name of "treating yo self," probably need to reconsider. But there are plenty of small, inexpensive ways to do it. Taking a bath, having a spa day at home (much more inexpensive than going to an actual spa), making your favorite food or drinks at home, or doing something else you enjoy that you never have time for. Speaking of baths and spa days, Sofia will be hosting a couple programs that are sure to complete your own "Treat Yo Self Day." Check out Do It Yourself: Vegan Soap Making on December 17 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. and Do It Yourself: Love Potion Bath Bombs on February 4 from 5 to 5:45 p.m. 

UNPLUG FROM THE WORLD AND SOCIAL MEDIA Another excellent suggestion from Sofia, she talked to me about how one of her main ways to cope with stress is to simply focus on what she's currently doing and be away from her phone and social media. If you're a regular or fairly regular user of social media and app platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., then you know that they're the ultimate form of overstimulation and self-comparison. For one, seeing what others are doing or thinking at all times can be distracting and keeps you from participating in your own life. You're so focused on everyone else that you sometimes can neglect your own needs and wants. Secondly, social media platforms inform you of what your friends and family are doing always. This might trigger you into feeling you're not doing enough for the holidays, not prepping enough, not truly getting into the holiday spirit like your one friend who just bought the greatest Christmas sweater ever and already found sweet gifts for her family and friends, while you haven't started yet. While this doesn't bother or affect everyone the same, I feel it's still worth discussing since many do feel this way. We're in the age of social media, so it's inevitable that it will affect some people's thinking during the holiday season. Sofia's personal pick? Cuddle up with her dog and read some Stephen King.

USE THE LIBRARY AS A RESOURCE If you need a place to chill out, come to the library! We have a generous collection of books and magazines to peruse, computers to use for your online shopping needs, and comfortable places to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet. Not to mention, holiday programs for you or your family to attend to encourage positive holiday vibes, and opportunities to make thoughtful (and free!) gifts. Some offerings include: Holiday Card Making on December 1 from 1 to 3 p.m., Decorate Your Own Ugly Christmas Sweater on December 6 from 7 to 8:30 p.m., and Gingerbread House Workshop on December 12 from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.!  

PUT THE HOLIDAY INTO PERSPECTIVE Finally, just remind yourself: It's Christmas, not the end of the world. Sometimes, we allow ourselves to be consumed by the season and forget that it's a time of year to appreciate who we love, spread joy and love, and be happy. The process of buying gifts has vastly overshadowed some of these ideas and has led many to view Christmas as the most commercialized holiday, which is not untrue. Break the mold and put into perspective what the holiday actually stands for, and you'll probably be less stressed in the process. Remind yourself of what and who you're thankful for. Make a habit of donating to organizations so people in need can also have a comfortable and positive holiday season (The Salvation Army will be ready and ringing their bells near their red buckets in many stores). Make time for family and friends and celebrate together. Don't feel obligated to spend more than you have on gifts and put yourself in debt over Christmas. Navigate the season the way that makes you the most happy and causes you the least amount of stress. And remember...