Christmas should be a joyful season, but for the vast majority of moms it’s also a season of stress.  If you’re like me, you’re the one responsible for decorating the house, making or buying goodies for school parties, finding the perfect teacher gifts, shopping for your family (and your in-laws!), all on top of your normal “mom duties.”  No wonder we often feel more like Scrooge than Saint Nicholas!

It’s important for busy moms to take a few minutes every day for a little stress relief, especially during this hectic time of year.  It’s also important to find time to pray and to meditate on the true meaning of Christmas.  I have a few strategies to help you reduce stress and find time for prayer and relaxation.

Although it may seem impossible, devote a little time every day for exercise, even if it’s just 10 or 15 minutes.  The easiest way to do this is to take a short, brisk walk before going to work or out to run errands.  If the weather is cold, bundle up!  You’ll soon be enjoying the wonderful, invigorating sensation of exercise in the cold air.  On the days you’re headed to the mall, arrive before it opens or plan to stay after closing for a stress-relieving power walk.  Most malls promote a “Mall Walker” program before or after regular business hours.  On those days when you are really pressed for time, watch my Spiritual Squat video for an easy exercise you can do in your own living room in mere minutes.

Since most moms spend plenty of time in their vehicles, why not make driving time an opportunity for prayer or meditation?  Keep a Rosary in your glove box or purchase a Rosary CD or downloadable audio Rosary.  If you’re lucky enough to have a Catholic radio station in your area or satellite radio, tune in for their many spiritually uplifting programs.  You can also download your favorite Catholic podcast and burn it to a CD to play during your commute.

Sit down for 10 minutes and make yourself a cup of hot tea.  Tea contains antioxidants which help prevent many diseases.  While you’re sipping, read the Nativity story in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Learn to say “No” or take shortcuts when needed.  If you’re already maxed out, don’t take on more projects.  Give someone else an opportunity to volunteer!  If making homemade cookies for the school party will take up an entire afternoon, call the local bakery and order some Christmas treats.  Don’t spend all day at the mall hoping for the perfect gift to appear.  Instead, pick up a gift card for your recipient’s favorite restaurant.  A nice meal out will likely be more appreciated than another vase or sweater.  Don’t be afraid to decrease your obligations or simplify your schedule.  Make a list, prioritize it and cross of any items that aren’t essential.

Find a few minutes to take a short power nap.  On those days when your to-do list is as long as Santa’s gift list, a power nap can provide more energy and rejuvenation than a double latte.  If you’re not at home, park the car in a safe place, recline the seat and drift off for 10 or 20 minutes.

Turn your bathroom into a mini spa.  Light some scented candles and take a long, hot soak in the tub.  (This is your chance to finally use the luxurious scented bath gel and lotion you got for Christmas last year!)  Paint your nails, deep condition your hair, then put on a cozy robe and curl up with a good book.  I’m feeling less stress just thinking of it!

Nothing relieves stress for me quite like attending daily Mass.  It’s the perfect opportunity to receive grace, focus on Christ and unload my many burdens in front of the altar.  I find quiet refuge in the arms of my Savior as the Bread of Life feeds my soul.  After all, Jesus is the true “reason for the season.”

Copyright 2010 Peggy Bowes