The holiday season is truly in full swing, and I am feeling it. Are you?
No matter what holidays you and your family celebrate (Happy Hannukah by the way!) this time of year brings so much stress!
The to-do list is LONG. Yes I admit, a lot of it is actually fun. But just because something is fun doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful. It doesn’t mean that I won’t have anxiety and restless nights thinking of all I have to do. Add gifts, cards, parties and travel to the typical daily routine and it can almost feel like adding a 2nd or 3rd job in the winter months. That takes its toll for sure, affecting both our mental and physical health.
So, how can we survive the stress of the holidays? Or better yet, not just “survive”, but actually thrive and ENJOY the holidays. I’ve thought long and hard about what I do personally to try to manage holiday stress. My mental and physical health can definitely suffer with the extra worries and changes in my routine this time of year. Add that to the dreary weather of the winter months and ugh. There are so many obligations that can truly make this time of year overwhelming. So let me start there…
Top 10 Tips to Thrive During the Holidays:
#1 Re-evaluate “perceived” obligations.
Often-times we feel like we have to be everything for everyone. That we HAVE to follow every tradition. Buy gifts for everyone. Be at every party. Make every occasion Pinterest-worthy. But we just can’t and truly we don’t have to. Say it with me. “It is OK to say NO. I do not have to do absolutely everything. I am still a great parent. My family will still have a great holiday.” Can you think of one or two things to let go of? How about three or four? Would that make you feel more in control this holiday season? Less stressed? Then do it. I promise it will be OK.
#2 Focus on your immediate family first.
Of course we love our extended family. Of course we want to be with them. But they live across the country (or across town). Once John and I had kids, my immediate family became my priority. That doesn’t lessen our love for the rest of the clan. Really, it doesn’t. I promise. But we rarely travel during the holidays (by choice) and it is wonderful.
#3 Give Happy.
Even if you’re not totally feeling it, behave in the spirit of the season. Give compliments, give hugs, give “I love yous.” That’s way more important than physical gifts anyway, and by making others feel special, you just might feel good too.
#4 Don’t forget about you!
You deserve treats too. Schedule a girls night out, plan a massage right when you might be needing it most. If holiday events start to stress you out, take a little break from the family and read, take a nap, or a hot shower. Enjoy a class of wine. Be sure to budget in a little extra fun or relaxation just for you.
Even if you hate to exercise, an extra 10 minute walk on a rough day can really help turn things around. Use those endorphins to your advantage. (See tip #6 for more.)
#6 Managing Time and Health: Use Technology to Your Advantage
As John always says, “I love living in the future.” There are so many ways we can use technology to help us better manage our time and health. How about some great mobile apps to help reduce stress and anxiety. Or a wearable time management and health tracking tool.
#7 Gift Giving: Use Technology to Your Advantage Part 2
We are Amazon Prime members. And I love love love it. We have a myriad of out of state family and friends to buy gifts for. Can you say FREE 2-day shipping?! Or looking for more unique items? Etsy.com is a great option. Supporting small business, one of a kind gifts, and the Etsy shop owner can handle wrapping and shipping for you. The post office is a nightmare during this season. Try to avoid it if you can. Or if you think your extended family would go for it, draw names to make gift giving even simpler. One thoughtful gift and you’re done.
#8 Avoid situations you know will be extra stressful.
Do you have a family member who always causes you stress? Try to avoid spending too much time with him or her. Do you hate crowds? Do not go to the local holiday festival. Again, say it with me “It is OK to say NO.”
#9 Be creative (but only if you like that sort of thing).
But if you want a super easy and adorable gift, try my Santa Candy Mason Jar. 🙂
#10 Ask for help!
Everyone understands the demands of the holidays. It’s OK to ask for help. I am willing to bet if you are hosting Christmas Eve or another event at your place, a few of your guests would be more than happy to bring a dish if only you asked them. I just did this at Thanksgiving and it really took some of the load off.
What are your best tips for managing stress and health during the holidays?