Holly Jolly November

happy snowman

There I was…on November 13, innocently reaching for a jar of Ovaltine on the supermarket shelf when it hit me. I was singing “Holly Jolly Christmas.”

Why? Because the Sobey’s in-store music system was pumping that peppy little holiday tune directly into my brain. Did I mention it was November 13?! Believe me when I tell you that I’m a cookie-baking, present-wrapping full-on lover of the whole holiday season but jeeeez Louise!  When the ho-ho-ho thing gets started so early, it creates a kind of Christmas overload that can make even the most festive elves among us feel grinchy after a while. So…I’m here to offer an antidote – four fab strategies for cleansing your psyche and washing away the angst caused by that merry mall muzak.

Help Out

There’s nothing like rolling up your sleeves and doing something for someone else to put your life in perspective. Call Community Care and see if they could use an extra pair of hands to help pack and sort gifts for families in need or volunteer one night at an Out of the Cold program. Southridge Church on Glenridge Avenue serves up hot meals every day of the week and they’re always looking for extra help. You don’t have to join the congregation to be part of things – everyone’s welcome.

Take a One Night Class

Psychologists will tell you that immersing yourself in a creative task is a great stress reliever. Once you’re focused on sliding beads onto a wire or putting paint on a canvas, your brain slips into what’s called ‘the zone’, a place of mental relaxation. Michael’s has a whole range of single afternoon or evening classes in everything from painting to cake decorating and Bedazzled, a beading store on Martindale Avenue offers fabulous evening programs in all sorts of jewelry making. Not only will you enjoy an evening of zoning out, but you’ll also end up with something sparkly at the end of it all. That’s one more present off your list!

Get Physical

You know that stressed-to-the-max-about-to-lose-your-mind feeling that leaves you breathless every time you think about everything you have to do before the whole holiday extravaganza hits? Think you can’t add even one more thing to that endless list of yours? Wrong. Add something physical – something that will get you thinking about your body even if just for half an hour. Do a Zumba class, practice your yoga poses in the living room or go for a quick run. You’ll burn off some stress and you’ll feel less guilty about all the eating-as-you’re-baking that’s going on in your kitchen…

Treat Yourself

It may feel a bit naughty to be nice to yourself at this time of year, but what the heck! You’re the shopping, baking, wrapping machine and all machines need oiling from time to time. The best kind of oiling occurs on a massage table, where a white-coated wizard will knead away all your knots – physical and emotional. Try it. You’ll love it. Niagara has lots of great spas but the Spa at White Oaks is one of the best. And you know where it is, so call.

Is a travel writer with weekly columns in the Toronto Star, various other newspapers and tripatlas.com. She's a thrilled to be a blog contributor, and is inspired by the people she's met through White Oaks.