We are officially in the middle of a 2019 holiday season. 2020 is knocking at our doors silently but persistently. Parties, gift shopping, dinner planning and other holiday activities can be overwhelming and often lead to burnout. If you want to relax more and stress less, read our strategies for coping with holiday stress.
Plan your holiday schedule
The fact that the holiday season started doesn’t change all your day-to-day obligations and responsibilities. Furthermore, it means that you have more on your plate than you can handle. Party planning, gift shopping, searching for the right holiday outfit go on top of work, workouts, home, family, hobbies and responsibilities.
The only way to stress less and juggle everything is to plan it all ahead. By organizing your time you set yourself realistic goals. Plan each activity in advance according to your existing schedule. Aim to do at least one activity a day. Those things that have to be done as soon as possible like gift shopping can be done during the week. Weekends are for grocery shopping and other things that can wait a bit.
By doing this, you’ll avoid the last-minute holiday drama and achieve everything you plan.
Be realistic about what you can and can’t do
Committing to every possible party invitation and accepting more work than you can handle will surely stretch you thin. Overcommitting and saying “yes” to everything spanning from professional relationships to friends and family isn’t something you can achieve without stress. To avoid this - be realistic about what you can and can’t do.
Saying No is empowering and it’s time to practice saying it. Commit to those things that align with your values, and politely decline those that don’t. For example, if your company is already hosting a Christmas party, you don’t have to say yes to individual parties planned by the colleagues. You will celebrate it as a team at an official party.
You can easily say no to other parties and spend that time with your family instead. Decide to cherish the time you have. Aim to spend it on things that matter to you. Remember that slowing down is good for your soul and a healthy holiday spirit.
Enjoy the power of giving
Instead of saying how you must go through the tiring process of gift selection, change your point of view. If this is a burden, the process won’t be enjoyable. Firstly, if you wish to reduce the stress around gift shopping, don’t do it a few days before the main event.
Plan your time so you have enough space to select your gifts. Allow room for sudden changes like gifts going out of stock. Create a gift list A and gift list B. Gift list A lists the gifts you really wish to buy. The B list offers alternative choices in case some gifts are already sold out. This will save you time while reducing frustration and related stress.
Secondly, don’t view gift shopping as an obligation, add fun into the mix. This is the time to invest in your emotional bank account. The return on investment is immediate because you’re putting others’ needs above your own. According to a study, giving to others increases both the health of the recipient and the giver. Instead of it being stressful, it can increase your health if you view it properly. Remember that the thought is what matters the most and not the value of the gift.
Find time for health essentials
The holiday season is a true test of your willpower and strength to say no to overindulgence. Going from one party to the other can easily put our healthy habits somewhere low on the list of our priorities. Even though it is okay to let go once in a while, you should also track your steps so you won’t slide off track and increase the size of your wardrobe.
Sleep is still important
Sleep is essential to our health and it helps reduce stress. People will sacrifice sleep when they have less time to achieve a rising number of tasks. But, sleep deprivation is not the solution. No matter how busy we get, we need to follow our regular sleep routine.
Even when we snooze our alarm in the morning to get 10 more minutes of sleep is better than getting no sleep. Sometimes the amount of stress can be the reason why we are sleep deprived. This is due to the levels of cortisol and the body’s inability to reduce them and enter the state of calm. The best advice is to reduce tech time one hour before going to sleep.
The herbal tea can soothe our senses and relax our body before hitting the sack. Aromatherapy and hot baths are also beneficial and help us relax. Use the time before going to bed to wind down so you’ll benefit more from rejuvenating sleep.
Mind what you eat
Holidays are one of the most depressing times of the year because people gain weight easily. People just overindulge and regret it later. The parade of holiday parties is to blame for sure. However, it is up to us to set our own pace when it comes to food. If we know how to strike a proper balance, we won’t regret it later.
The helpful strategy here is to set your daily limits when it comes to the amount of food and sweets. Set your limits to one breakfast, lunch and a moderate dinner for starters. Eat no more than one slice of cake and have one alcoholic beverage a day. If you have two parties lined up in one day, create a game plan. For example, eat half of your usual plate at one party and eat the other half at the second party.
The goal here is to limit your portion size so you won’t stuff yourself. Eat only one dessert a day so politely decline any deserts if you’ve already had your share. The holiday season shouldn’t be about eating all the time. It is about creating new memories so treat it like that. Feel your heart with love, not your stomach with food.
...and also what you drink
Where there is food, there are also many drinks. These are packed with empty calories and can also be the reason why you’ve gained weight. If possible, limit your drinks to one drink per party. Pay attention to your water intake throughout the day. Even during the holidays aim to drink at least two liters of water a day. Also, drink at least one cup of water between drinks at parties. This way you’ll stay hydrated and drink less.
Don’t skip your workouts
Intentional physical activity can be your getaway from all holiday-related drama and stress. When you plan your days around professional and holiday-related activities, make sure to leave enough time for your regular workouts. Your workouts are not something you should cancel during these busy times. Moreover, you should use it as a means to burn all those excess calories you simply can’t avoid.
Make sure you have time for at least 150 minutes of moderate workouts. If you don’t have time to go to your regular fitness session, amp up activity throughout your day. Whenever you can, ride a bike instead of driving. Even a 20-minute ride on your electric bike around the block can put you in a calm mental state.
Also, pledge to avoid elevators at all costs and use the stairs. This is non-negotiable even in cases when you have to reach the tenth floor. Your body will be thankful once the holiday season passes and you’re able to fit into your favorite pair of jeans.
Carve out some time for yourself
This can be easier said than done when your family is flying in from all over the world. But, when you are under a lot of pressure, even a minor misunderstanding can blow your head off. When you feel that the pressure is too much to handle, it is time to let go and kick your feet up. To feel less under pressure, block out 30 minutes to an hour each day for self-care.
You can take your stress outside and go for a walk. This light physical activity will be good for your mental health and physical fitness. You can use this time to self-reflect and clear your mind. Also, you will soak up some vitamin D and improve your mood instantly.
If you need a longer time out, schedule a massage or a facial. The NYE celebration is coming so you should look and feel your best. A massage can ease the tension, relax you, soothe any pain and eliminate stress. A facial can give you a glowing complexion, increase your mood, boost your self-confidence and also clear your mind. Being a bit selfish is okay even during the gift-giving season.
Things don’t always go as planned
If things don’t go as you plan, it’s not the end of the world. Perfection is an illusion and it’s not the reason to stress over it. So what if your cater forgot to include a cake in your delivery? It is surely not a reason to have a mental breakdown. You can mix up a sweet treat even with a few ingredients you have in your cabinet.
Caterers make mistakes, people cancel on you or don’t show up to your party. You’ll forget to buy certain festive essentials like new string lights or enough wine for Christmas dinner. Since unexpected things are bound to happen, you should learn how to deal with them. You can’t control everything, but you can control your reaction. Decide to go with the flow and respond to each situation with “So what?”. So what if there is only one bottle of red wine instead of two? Or - so what if your friend decided to go away for the holidays and informed you at the last minute?
Also, ask for help. You don’t have to organize everything on your own because your family can help. Let your mom make the cake. It will take you back to your childhood when you smell her signature cake. Kids can be in charge of decoration and seating arrangements. Delegate whatever you can and you’ll be happier. Embrace the positive aspect of each moment and go with the flow. You will decrease the pressure of being perfect and thus reduce stress.
Plan some fun stress boosting activities
Holidays are not only about giving and receiving gifts. They are also about reconnecting, coming together and having fun. The best way to reduce holiday-related stress is to laugh it all out. Sit down with your loved ones and reminisce about the past. Think of the funny things you and your siblings did when you were growing up. Go down the memory lane and have fun by reliving those moments.
Prepare a list of movies that will cheer everyone up. Comedies are always more fun when watched in a group. People will make jokes and laugh out loud. It will spread positivity around your home and bring in the holiday spirit.
Play a game of charades with your family. Play in teams - grandparents against children, or parents against their children. Whoever loses has to wash the dishes after dinner or take out the trash for the day.
You can also dance the night away. Create a killer evergreen playlist both your kids and parents can dance to. Your kids will laugh to their grandparents' dancing moves.
The main goal is to have fun and enjoy the moments together.
Start your New Year's resolutions early
Thinking about your New Year’s resolution can be stress-relieving. You can think about these resolutions during your daily hour of self-care. Focus on resolutions that are attainable like learning a new language or how to sew. Make at least one decision that will improve your health like eating something sweet only once a week or exercising 4 times instead of your regular three times.
Whatever you write down, think of an action plan too. Write down a timeline for each of these resolutions. By doing this you will have a clear and concise plan and with a bit of effort and devotion, they will become part of your lifestyle.
Burning out instead of relaxing during the holiday season can be avoided if we make the right decisions. Most importantly, as much as we have to focus on others, we should also focus on our wellbeing. So, when things become stressful, read our tips and adapt your own strategies for coping with stress accordingly.