Even before you open your eyes in the morning, before your body fully wakes up, your mind is already in full force, thinking about everything you have to check off on your To Do list for the day, including all the extra things you have to do for the holidays. Sound familiar?
You may already live a busy, bustling life but then throw in the holidays and the stress levels can become quite overwhelming. There’s so much to do and so little time!
If you feel like you’re drowning during the holidays, then you’re not the only one. The holiday season can be very chaotic – trying to remember every person you need to buy a gift for, shopping for everyone on your list, fighting the heavy traffic and crowds in Oakland, cooking or baking everyone’s favorite dishes and desserts, planning and hosting holiday parties, sending out Christmas cards, and trying to spend time with your family. Whew! It’s exhausting!
10 Easy Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress
However, it doesn’t have to be such a hectic time of year. There are ways you can reduce the holiday stress and actually enjoy the merry season. Follow these 10 easy tips to help calm your nerves:
- Set a budget. The biggest stress surrounding the holiday season is the gift-giving aspect. Many people have financial restraints and worry about racking up credit card debt or finding the extra funds to do all their gift shopping. Plan ahead and set a budget. It could be per person or total for the whole season, but it will help alleviate a lot of stress and worry about your finances.
- Focus on your regular routine. With all the extra commitments, errands and tasks you do for the holidays, it’s easy to get off your normal routine. But try not to. Keep eating healthy, nutritious food, exercising daily, getting plenty of sleep, taking any supplements or vitamins and giving yourself time to rest and relax. It’ll feel like you have more control and give you the energy you need to keep up with everything. You’ll notice that it’s when you stray from the routine, you’ll start to feel fatigued and stressed.
- Practice time management. Plan out your days, weeks or even months leading up to the big day. Essentially, make a roadmap. If you’re a visual person, try actually writing out your list of things to do and holiday events in a planner, or use one of many free project/task management programs online, like MeisterTask, Asana or Trello. Scheduling everything out will keep you organized, focused and less frazzled.
- Make time for your family. Even with all the craziness going on, be sure to make quality time throughout the months to just be with your family and friends. This can include baking holiday treats, watching your favorite Christmas movie, listening to Christmas music as you decorate the house, going to the mall to see Santa, or just eating dinner together every night. And during this precious time, try to turn off all electronic devices for the evening, or just a couple hours at the very least, to give your undivided attention to your loved ones.
- Exercise. One of the best ways to reduce your stress is to get your body moving. Whether you get outside in the sunshine for a walk or hit the local gym, working out your muscles and body is a great way to induce endorphin release and stimulate the production of serotonin that make you naturally feel good and keep you happy.
- Just say “No!” Sometimes, you can’t do it all. That’s life. Learn to say “no” and don’t over-commit yourself. You may have to forgo a friend’s holiday party or step away from the kitchen this year and not make those cookies. Protect your valuable time and spend it where it’s truly needed. It’s not selfish to think about yourself. If you don’t take of yourself, how can you expect to take care of everyone else? Only commit to things that you know you can accommodate in your schedule.
- Get rid of traditions. It is possible to outgrow a tradition, especially when you feel like a slave to it. If you don’t enjoy a tradition any longer and it feels more like a chore than something fun to do, then ditch it for a new tradition. Or, if you’re not ready to fully get rid of it, find a way to improve it – make it cheaper, faster, easier, or better. When you’re loving what you do, you’ll enjoy your time doing it even more. You’ll begin to cherish that time and even look forward to the tradition.
- Learn to delegate and ask for help. You don’t have to be a superhero and do everything yourself. It’s okay to delegate simple, tedious tasks or ask for help from your loved ones or co-workers. Learn to let go and let others assist you. You don’t always have to be in control of everything. It will help save you a lot of time and energy for more important, bigger tasks. When the stress becomes too great and you need help managing it, Healing Happens Therapy can help guide you through the holidays.
- Be present in the moment. When you’re swept up in the busyness of it all and feel overwhelmed, in that moment, remember to stop and breathe; become very present. If you notice your breathing is short and shallow, then your anxiety levels are likely rising and it’s time for a break. Even if it’s just two minutes, focusing on your breath will help you to calm down, get out of your head and release the tension.
- Make time for yourself. It’s okay to hit the pause button during the season to rejuvenate yourself. You deserve to enjoy the holidays, too. Take some time to de-stress and do the things you enjoy doing: meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, take a bubble bath, reflect on the year, practice gratitude, write or journal, paint, sew, watch a funny movie or take a nap. If you really want to indulge, book a spa day, plan a girls’ day out with your friends, or schedule a date night with your partner. Self-care is equally important during the holiday season.
But most importantly, enjoy yourself and have fun!