The holidays are here!
Everyone has a different reaction; some are thrilled, some go into hiding and some of us break out into a full blown panic attack. Wherever you fall on the holiday spectrum, there are ways to manage holiday stress and come through unscathed and maybe, dare I say, even enjoy the season.
Take some time for self-care, consider the season ahead, and find a few things you can implement from the list below to help you manage any stress you experience during the holidays.
Find a way to make it your own.
1. Plan ahead.
Grab a calendar or use your phone – anything to help you keep track of where you need to be and what you need to do. Parties to attend, gifts to buy, cookies to bake for that work party; there are a lot things to keep track of. Write it down and plan it out to avoid rushing and last minute stress.
2. Carve out some time for yourself.
Enjoy some alone time, read a book, or meet up with a friend for coffee. Schedule time to allow yourself to re-energize, relax, and enjoy a mindful moment or two. It’s okay to make this a priority! Write it in your calendar so you won’t run out of time before you get around to taking care of yourself.
3. Give yourself permission to say no.
You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Planning ahead will help with this one! Know when you’re available and how much time you have. You’ll avoid double booking yourself and avoid unnecessarily stressful situations. Allow yourself the freedom to graciously decline invitations to things that don’t contribute to your enjoyment of the season.
4. Make time to exercise.
It’s easy to bail on your workout routine when you have so much to do and so many extra holiday activities. But if you want to truly relieve stress and keep your mind right, find some time to work out. It can be a family walk in the morning, going for a quick run, doing yoga at home or hitting the gym with a friend. Exercise is vital to mental and physical health. It can be a life saver during the holidays and can also be a good excuse to take a break from the crowds.
5. Don’t abandon your healthy diet – at least not completely.
Along the same lines as working out, eating a healthy, balanced diet will help you avoid extra stress. Excess alcohol and sugar can fuel stress and drive your holiday season into the ground. I’m not advocating avoiding these things all together, but consider being mindful about how much you consume. Keep healthy options in the kitchen and don’t forget to hydrate! Keep a water bottle in the car, so you’ll have it on the go, too.
6. Adjust your expectations.
Let’s be real, you can’t always avoid grumpy Aunt Margaret, but you can set yourself up for a more positive experience by not setting your expectations too high. Know what you’re getting into, don’t take things personally, and choose to have a good attitude. You can avoid a lot of disappointment by allowing people to be who they are and remember that everyone else is dealing with holiday stress just like you. Tis the season to cut them some slack.
7. Identify your stressors and make a game plan.
Speaking of your grumpy Aunt Margaret, take some time to identify those things (or people) who really stress you out; the party you feel anxious about, the gift you’re stressing over, etc. Whatever it is, acknowledge it and make a game plan – how can you find a sense of ease in the situation? Maybe plan to attend the party for a set amount of time or talk to someone who can help in the situation.
8. Connect to a childlike wonder.
Step back and look around; the lights, the décor, the excitement. Allow yourself a moment to detach from the cynicism and stress. Watch the children’s eyes light up as they stare up at the huge Christmas tree. Let yourself go and enjoy the people around you.
9. Practice mindfulness.
Staying in the moment helps avoid a sense of overwhelm. Find a way to connect to the present moment – meditation, breathing, etc. Being mindful allows us to slow down and truly be present, experiencing the season instead of rushing through it.
10. Remember that this won’t last forever.
Maybe you’re one who really struggles with the holiday season. Maybe it’s something that brings a sense of sadness or loneliness. Know that you’re not alone and the vast majority of us wrestle with these feelings every year. Find solace in knowing that it is a season, and it will not last forever.
Don’t let the stress of the holidays steal your joy! Take whatever works for you from this list and work it out.
Do you have a go-to tip for managing holiday stress? Share it in the comments! Let’s help each other have a stress-free season and have fun!