I don't know about you, but I happen to have a love-hate relationship with the fall and winter holidays. Don’t get me wrong, I mostly love the holidays. They bring a change of routine and excitement. I get to give and receive gifts, eat yummy food, and spend time with people I love. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But, it doesn’t mean I’m never almost on the brink of a nervous breakdown at times. With all of the family gatherings to plan, trips to take, relatives to see, tons of food to cook, and the financial strain of present buying, it’s a miracle I come out alive!
Stress around the holidays is inevitable; but if we are intentional about how we face our hectic and overwhelming days, then we can stress-less this holiday season and reap it’s joys instead.
In honor of the 12 days of Christmas coming up, I have put together 12 simple and very effective ways you can stress-less this holiday season. Read through the tips and commit to practicing at least 2-3 of them through the end of the year. Happy Holidays!
1. start making lists
This might seem like the most boring thing you could do, but I guarantee it will reduce your stress by half. Make a list for every single thing you need to do. Events you will be going to and hosting, people you will be seeing or NOT seeing, presents to buy, meals to cook, etc. Go crazy with it and over-organize the heck out of your life. By doing this you can be sure that none of your anxiety will come from being unprepared and you will have the gift of an empty mind.
2. stretch every day
We hold the majority of our stress in our body; mainly in our hips and shoulders. Doing 10 - 15 minutes of light stretching every day will help alleviate any extra stress you are unknowingly holding on to.
3. take a walk every evening
With the weather cooling down, it's the perfect time to get outside and clear your head. Bring your dog, invite a friend or family members to join you. Exercise produces feel-good endorphins which is like taking anxiety medication only naturally.
4. eat fruits and vegetables at every meal
The heavy food and its chemicals we consume during the holidays put stress on our tummies and our brains; so be sure to get in some food to fuel your immune system and support your overall health during the busy holiday season.
5. give yourself permission to indulge
Yep, that’s right. A lot of our stress can come from worrying about what we can or can’t eat during the holidays because we are worried about gaining extra weight. But, life is too short to not give ourselves a break to enjoy the things we don’t always get to eat.
6. make every evening before bed “me time”
Once you have done everything you can for the day, take 15-30 minutes before bed to do something for yourself. Whether it’s journaling, watching TV, doing your stretches, or calling a friend, take this time not to do anything you have to do but something you want to do. You are a priority. Take time to unwind so that you are ready for the next day.
7. you don’t have to cook everything yourself or at all
With how much we work why do we put the pressure on ourselves to cook everything? There are many healthy options for already prepared dishes. You can buy your whole meal prepared or just the sides. You deserve to enjoy your holidays just as much as anyone else. And if cooking isn’t your happy place then don’t do it.
8. sleep as much as you can, whenever you can
Sleep is a huge factor when it comes to relieving stress. Being well rested keeps our anxiety and anger levels low and boosts our sharpness and stamina. Sleep also helps us fight off any sickness that comes our way (flu season anyone?). So if you don’t want to show up to your parties sleep-deprived, try to be as rested as possible catching up on sleep whenever you can. Yes, that means naps.
9. make a
A thankful heart is a happy heart. The state of our hearts and minds plays a huge role in our stress levels. Comparison is one of the heaviest things that can weigh on our minds. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others during the holidays. Someone has a bigger house with a fancier Christmas tree, they are better cooks than us, or they are in a relationship while we are still single, etc. Instead of looking at everyone else, practice changing your perspective this season. Make a “Thankful List”. Write down everything you have to be thankful for i.e. your home, the food on your table, your family, your health, etc. You can even write things like your hair straightener and your pillows. Write anything and everything down, then place this list where you can easily read it every day.
10. be present and have fun
It can be easy to just get through the holidays, but life is so much more meaningful and enjoyable when we are present. So be intentional about being present this season.
11. know when to say NO
Sometimes one of the best things we can do for ourselves is to say NO. Whatever obligations we may have or tasks we need to finish, if you have too much on your plate then prioritize the things that must be done and let go of or say no to the extras.
I understand that the idea of adding another thing to your plate can produce more stress as opposed to reducing it, but I want to encourage you. One of the best ways to help with anxiety and stress is to take our minds off of ourselves and look at others for a moment. Volunteering is a great way to do this. There are many places you can volunteer - food banks, animal shelters, hospitals, nursing homes, etc. This holiday season show some kindness to others. In the end, you will be doing yourself the biggest favor.