How to Get Through the Holidays and Not Wreak Havoc on Your Mind & Body
The holiday season can be both a blessing and a curse, so it’s important to learn how to avoid holiday stress. Time with family and friends, a sense of unity and the spirit of giving can lift us up and refresh us for the year ahead.
But overdoing it can cause mental and physical distress. Stress, loneliness, anxiety and depression are at an all-time high during the holidays and it is very easy to get caught up in over-scheduling, over-spending and overindulging.
This year, commit to controlling your holidays instead of letting them control you. Make a plan and stick to it – no matter the outside pressure to push your limits. Know your personal “triggers”, do what you can to avoid them, and use these 4 tips on how to avoid holiday stress.
Stress is going to happen but keeping as many areas of your life as manageable as possible will help.
4 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Stress
1) Set A Sensible Schedule
Just because the holidays are here once again doesn’t mean you don’t still have to work, take the kids to activities, cook regular meals and wash the laundry.
Getting talked into baking hundreds of cookies for the school bake sale, volunteering to do all the costume alterations for the church pageant or attending every party and gift exchange for six weeks straight is going to have to be carefully worked into your already hectic schedule.
This is when the word “NO” comes in handy.
Before you commit to anything, let the person making the request know you will confirm or decline within the next couple of hours.
You want to help but make sure you aren’t going to cause a ripple effect of chaos in your own life by saying yes if you truly don’t have the time.
Schedule the “musts” in ink and the “maybes” in pencil. Don’t forget to leave yourself breathing room.
2) Call a Truce
If you have no choice other than to interact with family, friends or co-workers with whom you have differences, do everything within your power to limit face-time and hold your tongue if at all possible.
Give peace a chance. Extending an olive branch – or at least refusing to engage in fresh confrontation – will help you avoid stress.
A family gathering or special occasion is not the place to air out your problems. Just let things happen naturally, without pushing or forcing. You may be surprised; it could change things for the better in years to come.
3) Know When to Say When
During the holiday season, it seems someone is always offering fresh brownies, homemade candy or spiked eggnog. Celebrate but listen to your body. Too much sugar – including alcohol – can make you feel sluggish and cause mood swings.
Consume food and drink in moderation, and know when your digestive system has had enough.
Don’t give up on your regular exercise program just because holiday insanity is in full swing.
Exercise not only helps you process those high-sugar, high-fat foods more efficiently, but it also helps regulate your mood. Nothing puts things in perspective like a walk or a yoga class. Take the time you need for you and come back energized.
4) Curb Spending!
According to the American Psychological Association (APA) money worries account for 60%-80% of holiday stress. Gift-buying (if done at all) should be carefully monitored with a specific list of items in mind and a strict budget.
Prioritize who you’re buying for and ask yourself why you feel the need to spend money you don’t have.
Consider giving the gift of your time. Teaching a child to craft or visiting with an elderly relative is worth more in memory points than something you buy and wrap, and is usually far more appreciated.
For those gifts you can’t do without, try shopping online instead of visiting stores. This practice may discourage impulse buys. No one in your life should receive a gift out of guilt or a sense of obligation.
You can stop the cycle of buying followed by months of regret as your regular living expenses try to recover from holiday shopping. It isn’t worth it.
Helping others during the holidays quickly puts your own stress and depression in perspective. Visiting with people who are lonely or unable to leave their homes due to health reasons pulls focus from your stress.
Nothing is as fulfilling as simply showing up and giving of your time, energy and personality—a completely free gift that could make all the difference in how you avoid holiday stress.
And isn’t the gift of yourself really what the holidays are all about?