While a certain amount of stress this time of year is unavoidable, such as snarled traffic, inclement winter weather, road closures and delays, other stress associated with the holidays can be minimized, if not avoided altogether. Be proactive in managing holiday stress with these 10 tips.
1. Stop taking on everything.
Who said you must get everything done and done right for the holidays? If you’ve willingly assumed this mantle, now’s the time to toss it aside. It’s impossible to be perfect, so why pursue perfection? Self-expectations are a huge hurdle to overcome, but you can do it. Tell yourself – and listen so it takes hold – that you don’t have to do everything. This is the first step to effectively managing stress this holiday season.
2. Know and respect your limits.
Even after you’ve told yourself that you don’t have to do it all, you might think that you’re so much in control that you can go for it anyway. That could be a costly mistake. Pushing yourself beyond what’s realistic will leave you haggard and exhausted at the end of the day. In addition, instead of looking forward to tomorrow, you’ll likely shortchange your well-being. Here is where you must know and respect your own limits and never exceed them. You may be tempted, but don’t succumb.
3. Clearly state your boundaries.
If you haven’t let others know what you will and won’t do by now, it’s time for you to make your boundaries clear. Just because others have always relied on you to host the big holiday gettogether, let them know this is not OK this year. Times change, other responsibilities may take precedence, or it’s just not equitable, besides no longer being fun. Don’t assume others know what your boundaries are, however. Most don’t. You must tell them.
4. Take advantage of online shopping.
The advent of online holiday shopping literally transformed what used to be a monumental holiday task into something that’s easy, quick and virtually seamless. Free shipping, discounts, extra gifts, suggestion lists, cash for purchasing via cash-back sites are all excellent for easing this type of holiday stress.
5. Be mindful what you eat.
Scarfing down a sandwich on the run, skipping meals, eating unhealthy snacks and eating too much are all ingredients for increased stress, if not a serious medical condition. Your body requires nourishment, not junk food. Eat regularly, at appropriate times, and sensibly, in moderate portions. In addition to more energy, with good self-care you’ll be better equipped to deal with holiday stressors.
6. You need your sleep.
Insufficient sleep is a big culprit in holiday stress. Granted, it might be tough to get 8 hours of sleep each night, especially if you wait until the last minute to tend to holiday chores, but you can’t afford to ignore this all-important self-care recommendation. When it’s time to go to bed, go. You need your sleep.
7. Skip the alcohol.
One huge contributor to holiday stress is alcoholic consumption. While a drink or two in moderation probably is fine – unless you are in recovery, do crazy things when you drink, or some other reason – keeping up with heavy-drinking partiers is likely to land you in a tight spot. Like jail, after holiday drinking and then driving. Instead, drink something festive and non-alcoholic. No one will care. This is a safe choice that will also cut down on your stress.
8. Start (and end) each day with something enjoyable.
The best way to have something to look forward to is to start or end each day with something you enjoy. That could be a massage from your partner, a specially-prepared latte, a hot bath or soothing shower, listening to your favorite album, taking a mindful walk outside, working in the home or on a hobby. What it is matters less than you derive pleasure from doing it. When you do something that you enjoy, you dramatically reduce your stress.
9. Get help and make it fun.
Since there’s only so much time in a day and you have a limited amount of energy, another way to reduce your anxiety and stress is to ask for help. With a couple added tweaks, you can also make it a fun activity. This makes your request more appealing and there’s less chance others will resent it. Besides, if everyone pitches in, the task or project will get done that much quicker. Let others know you’ll reciprocate. This is more than a grand gesture and it may make them even more willing to lend a hand.
10. Remember that relationships matter.
There’s no better or more appropriate time of the year than the holidays to make the most of relationships. Not in the sense of getting ahead, networking or adding to your social media likes. Think about what it means to you to have your loved ones and family members to spend time with this holiday season. What you take for granted, others would do almost anything to experience. Remember too that time passes quickly. These cherished moments will be loving memories later. The added benefit is that love is a healing balm that can magically erase stress. Be open to it and soak up every minute with those you care about.