« | Archives | »

Would This Holiday Stress-Buster Work for You?

November '13

Do you find your workload picking up this time of year? Is your to-do list expanding despite all the tasks you’ve already completed? If you’re juggling the demands of job and family along with the upcoming holiday season, the answer to these questions is probably yes.  

Years ago, with the demands of graduate school, full-time work and parenting, I found myself facing the holiday season overwhelmed with the proverbial, “too much to do – too little time.” I lost my holiday spirit as I just didn’t have time for any creative project to celebrate this special time of year.

Then one day, when I was walking by a store window, I spied some festive Marimekko fabric and remembered some directions for making stuffed ornaments in a magazine at home. Without a thought, I walked into the store and bought a yard of that lime green, forest green and red fabric with the white hearts. Later that month, I packed some homemade ornaments (dark green Christmas trees plus red and lime green hearts) in my suitcase as we headed to my parents house in Florida to celebrate the holidays.

More importantly, I accidentally bumped into a surprising secret for dealing with holiday stress. While I fully expected the extra work of sewing these ornaments to drain my low stores of energy, time spent playing with these gorgeous fabrics and turning them into a surprise for my parents added to my energy reserves.

In her book, You Don’t Have to Go Home from Work Exhausted, Anne Magee-Cooper suggests you “act like a toddler” to avoid exhaustion, arguing that childlike play is critical for generating energy. With my sudden impulse to sew Christmas ornaments, I reclaimed my toddler sense of play and rescued my overwhelmed “mom”, “worker” and “student” self.

Magee-Cooper points out that current research finds extended workdays with few or no breaks lead to less productivity and learning rather than more. Instead she recommends taking brain-balancing work breaks before your energy stores begin to deplete. 

I happily stumbled onto her life-saving remedy for holiday stress by accident years ago. What kind of brain-balancing activities can you enjoy this holiday season to break up your stress-loaded days? Or do you already employ an effective stress-busting technique for the holidays? If so, please share it! Id love to hear from you.

Meanwhile, Happy Thanksgiving – Enjoy!









  1. Cathryn said on November 26, 2013:

    Bonnie, Thank you for sharing this idea. As an artist, I have often noticed how restored I feel after spending time on a creative project. Occasionally I have worked late into the night — when I would normally have been sleeping — and yet felt as refreshed in the morning as if I’d had a full night’s sleep. There’s something restorative about playful activity, for sure.

  2. Joan Segerson said on November 26, 2013:

    As always Bonnie, your words provide comfort!
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

  3. Bonnie said on November 26, 2013:

    Hi Cathryn!
    Lovely to hear from an artist that this toddler technique for building energy works!
    Happy Turkey Day!

  4. Bonnie said on November 26, 2013:

    Hi Joan!
    Great to hear from you!
    Happy Turkey Day to you too,

  5. Helga Matzko said on November 26, 2013:

    What a lovely way to sabotage overdoing what often feels like a must and/or have to – the larger the family the more expectations, although with joyful anticipation.
    My body decided this year to somehow prevent me from the usual joyful although exhausting activities. Can’t wait to experience the children taking this over temporarily – actually looking forward to it.
    Joy can be had no matter what – it’s all in the attitude and spirit of Christmas.

  6. Bonnie said on November 26, 2013:

    Hi Helga!
    Love your thought that joy is is an attitude!
    Thanks for sharing,

Leave a comment