By Tiffany Richir
Don’t let the good things that the holidays bring—like family gatherings, tasty meals, shopping, gift giving, and traditions—stress you out! The most wonderful time of the year doesn’t have to become the most stressful time of the year. While the holiday season is not always as relaxing as we imagine it will be, there are things you can do to help reduce the amount of stress you feel and keep the winter blues out of your holiday spirit.
A good place to start is to keep yourself organized and set realistic holiday goals. Don’t walk around with a million thoughts going through your head! Write them down and clear your mind. Organized thoughts can help you make a plan so you can be productive, get things accomplished, and not feel overwhelmed. Today, help is at your fingertips through your smart phone. With a plethora of apps available, you can utilize them to help you save time and keep on task. Look for apps that help arrange tasks by importance, remember gift ideas, organize grocery shopping lists, calendars to remember important dates and parties you are invited to. Utilize online ordering to avoid long lines and out of stock items. As time pushes on and the holidays get closer, start prioritizing your list and eliminate things that might not be as important as you once thought they might have been.
Do you have a big family to cook and shop for? Plan ahead. Consider spending a day prepping in advance; whip up crock-pot meals that you can freeze and buy gifts early, then wrap them and keep them at a neighbor’s house.
Money is a common stressor around the holidays. Help yourself–and probably others, too–by setting gift limits and costs, especially when big families are involved. Always be ready for drop-in guests and last minute gifts.
Too often, we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have time for that,” whether referring to another holiday party you were invited to, exercise, or worrying about yourself right now. Wondering when you are going to find the time to fit everything in can be stressful without even actually doing any of them! Don’t get caught up trying to do too much for too many people in too little time. Don’t be afraid to just say “no”. You are not obligated to attend every party you are invited to. These are your friends and family and if you can’t attend every function, they will understand that you are doing the best you can.
Think about what has worked for you in the past and what you can do to improve the things that didn’t work as well. Sure, it can be easy to feel weighed down by things you feel you have to do, but you don’t have to go at it alone. Ask for help this holiday season. You can ask family members to take on extra tasks, like decorating, shopping, cleaning; share responsibilities and take turns. Try to simplify things like holiday decorating. If you are having a party, ask guests to bring a dish to share to cut back on the amount of cooking, dishes, and clean up you have to take on. Sometimes, less is more.
There are many good health reasons to avoid holiday stress. It is important to get adequate rest each night to feel refreshed and ready for the day. Holidays are a great time of the year for cooking, pies, desserts, and holiday drinks. Too many indulgences can add extra weight during the holidays and may not only add extra pounds but also extra stress. A well-nourished body will actually help fight against stress. Exercising will serve many good things for you. Not only will it keep your weight stable but it also releases endorphins, which make you feel happy. Exercising also gives you a mini break from the holiday hustle and bustle, whether it’s a trip to the gym, an hour of yoga, or a brisk walk through the neighborhood.
It’s important to take time for yourself. Ask yourself what makes you happy during the holiday season. Taking a break will help you restore your sanity. Remember that they don’t even have to be long breaks; try soaking in the tub for 20 minutes, listening to some soothing music, and taking a few deep breaths. Sometimes, just giving yourself a few minutes of tranquility can be enough to help you clear your mind and give you perspective to what you are doing. Taking care of your body will increase your enjoyment for the holidays.
This holiday season, relax, take care of yourself, and remember what you celebrating. Enjoy this special time!