The holidays are a time to gather with friends and family to enjoy the festivities the season brings. Everyone seems to look forward to the holidays, the time off of school and work, and even coziness with movies by a fire.
However, the holiday season can also be a huge source of stress.
“How we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high stress levels. However, if you try and see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish.” – Catherine Pulsifer
To prepare presents, host parties, bake goodies, have family stay over, and decorate, the stress can easily add up. This can make the holidays seem like more a chore than a celebration. If this sounds like you during the holidays, try to implement these tips into your daily routine this season. You’ll feel less overburdened with stress and can embrace more of the true joy the holiday season brings.
1 – Don’t take on more than you can handle.
If your family expects you to host the holiday gatherings this year, but you don’t think you can manage, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask if they might be able to host instead. You might have other obligations, or simply not have time to get the house ready for a big party. There’s nothing wrong with asking someone else in the family to host.
You could always offer to bring more snacks or decorations to help them get everything ready for guests. That way, you can still make an important contribution without feeling overwhelmed.
Prioritizing tasks can also help you keep you motivated and control the need for a last-minute rush. Many people pack way too much into their days, often producing mounting stress. If you have to, make a physical list of everything you need to get done. According to a Harvard study, writing down your goals can dramatically improve your chances for success.
Make sure your “To Done” List (as we like to call it) only includes a few key tasks you need to complete each day. It’s much easier to manage stress when you’re reasonable with what you can accomplish within a specific time-frame.
If you can’t get something done that day, move it to the next day, or even ask someone for help -it’s OK!
2 – Do something fun each day.
The holidays don’t have to be all work and no play. Even if you have a lot to do, you can still set aside a little time each day to step away from the chaos of the holidays and nourish your spirit with people and activities that make your heart happy. After a certain time, set an agreement with yourself to stop what you’re doing and take time for you. You’ll get everything done that you need to at the right time.
If you can’t get any alone time, spend time with family and friends doing something that doesn’t involve preparation and effort. Play a board game, watch movies, go eat at your favorite restaurant or something your group can enjoy together.
Leading up to major holidays, you might feel strapped for time and rush to finish cooking and wrapping presents at the last minute.
3 – Keep healthy eating habits.
During the holidays, it can be tempting to indulge in treats more often than you should but think of how you will likely feel after the holidays are over. Make a pact with yourself to keep up your normal eating habits throughout the holidays, with some “cheat meals” sprinkled in here and there. Of course, many folks enjoy it, and eat what they want in the celebration of the holidays. But it’s easy to let a couple of days of treating yourself turn into a few more days, then weeks, then months.
To make sure you stay on track, start a healthy holiday eating challenge with friends, so you can hold each other accountable and also have workout buddies to rely on. The holidays can be a prime time for putting on pounds, and weight gain can often be a trigger for stress in a person’s life.
And if you love desserts, (who doesn’t?) try making them lower-fat by using applesauce instead of oil. This way, you can still enjoy your favorite foods without worrying about how your jeans will fit the next day. Making delicious food that everyone enjoys is an important part of the holiday season. When you feed your body well, you will feel good, leaving less room for stress to creep into your life.
4 – Embrace whatever happens.
Even if you go to the ends of the Earth to make sure something turns out perfectly, it may not always go as planned. Sometimes, you just have to embrace what’s going on in life and make the best of it.
You might put a pie in the oven while you go put the baby down for a nap or take a shower. And before you know it, the pie gets a little too brown on top. Or, you might go out shopping, expecting to find all your gifts in one day, but only come out with a few. Thinking about what could have happened is futile. The moment has already happened. Now you get to create new things in this moment.
There’s always a new day, so don’t stress too much if things don’t go as planned. You may even come to discover that the pie burned because someone else in your family already made the exact same one to bring later, and maybe you didn’t find all your presents because the store you go to the next day will have the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. Whatever happens this holiday, embrace it. Love it or learn from it.
Keeping calm during the holidays and choosing not to worry about the little things can make a big difference in how much stress you put yourself under. Worrying about something doesn’t solve the problem; it only creates more to worry about. Remember this the next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, and remember – you control your reality. You only feel stressed if you choose to, so choose positively!
Your Turn–Share How You’ll Keep Stress in Check During the Holiday Season
How do you handle stress during the holidays? We’d love to chat – join in the discussion below!