First let me start off by saying that I hope you all take some time to really read this post. Truly. I think it’s so, so important that we take the time and the energy to treat ourselves well. Like, REALLY well. Nothing good comes from someone who is worn down, exhausted, depleted and overworked. The holidays, while most of us are away from work for a few days, is still a really stressful time if we let it be. It’s a lot of personalities under one roof – a lot of conflicting opinions. It’s also just a lot of energy to consume, and if we’re not mindful, it can be hard on our wallets and our relationships, too.
Though we have Thanksgiving under our wing, Christmas is upon us as well as the new year, so lets dive into this super important topic.
Avoid Holiday Stress
Holidays for me haven’t always looked the way the they do now. I remember growing up, Christmas was overflowing with my family members all under one roof. Grandparents, great grandparents, movies, games, and of course.. our annual holiday play. Chaos was what made it magical, and I feel lucky to have those memories for the long haul. These days, they’re a lot more quiet. We’ve all grown up, started families, traditions of our own, and moved across the country. The loss of my dad shifted some things for us, and we’re in the process of making our own traditions and learning how to honor his absence around this time of year, instead of mourning it.
It’s fascinating to me to learn about how everyone celebrates the holiday season, and stress can creep up regardless of what your traditions look like for you. Whether you’re spending it with your friends and family, your in-laws. Maybe you’re snuggled up on the couch shopping online for the holidays or combating the hustle and bustle of the stores – the name of the game is to try and keep your cool, focus on what really matters, and have the proper tools to avoid situations that can leave you feeling stressed during one of the most magical times of the year.
Holiday Stress Statistics
There are multiple reasons that stress creeps in around the holidays, one of which is our health. It’s habitual and all too common that this is the time of year we put exercise on the back burner, eat whatever we want (hello, Christmas cookies) and drink socially with our family and friends maybe more than we would outside of this season. But according to this article, the main use of holiday stress is finances.
More than that, it’s the nearing of the end of another year. This is the time when we focus solely on what we didn’t get around to doing, and maybe goals that were left unreached. We start to compare ourselves to others and see what else we can cram into the last bit of the year before it comes to a screeching halt and we’re supposed to remember an entirely different number when we’re writing our checks. (anyone else have a hard time with this?)
It’s completely normal (that’s the good news!) and statistics are proving that to us across the board – but the bad news? It’s just not a healthy state of being. It’s 100% within our control when it comes to managing holiday stress – we just have to learn what our triggers are, be prepared for them to try and make an appearance, and stay ahead of the curve. Most importantly? We’ve got to learn how to take care of ourselves properly – especially around this time of year.
Holiday Stress Relievers
1. Treat yourself.
Did you ever watch Parks & Rec? Remember Donna? I loved her approach to treating herself, especially when it was for no other reason then she felt like she deserved it. That’s good enough for me! Now, it’s probably not wise to hail a limo and go shopping on Rodeo Drive – but I have something a bit more peaceful in mind. Take yourself for a massage or a pedicure. Maybe a facial. All guaranteed to reduce stress, even if just a little bit. But if that’s not in the cards for you (spending wise), I totally get that. This is an amazing face mask that you can do at home. You could also opt for getting one of these! We had one growing up and I loved it.
2. When asked to commit to something, give yourself 24 hours.
Don’t commit to any holiday plans right away. Simply say, “can I let you know?” and sleep on it. The holidays are already a crazed time of year, and this is the time where you should be saying no where necessary. Remember, it isn’t selfish to decline an invitation.
3. Talk to a therapist.
Depending on your circumstances for the holidays, this could be a really important and necessary appointment to make for yourself. Whether you have parents that are divorced, you yourself are going through divorce, you’ve lost a family member, etc.. having a safe place where you can unload your emotions can be so beneficial for your mental well being. Holidays can be really tough without loved ones, and often times they’re hard to navigate on our own. Don’t be afraid to seek out a little extra support from a professional.
4. Get good, solid sleep.
It’s no secret that there can be SO much to prepare for when it comes to the holidays. Whether you’re doing your shopping, preparing to host friends and family or you’re awaiting travel. Good sleep will not only lower your stress levels, but it’ll boost our immune system as well. Absolutely no one has time for being sick, let alone during the holiday season. I also highly recommend taking this! I use them every day and a preventative, and always take extra when I know I’ll be traveling or an event (eh em: Holidays) are coming up.
5. Give back.
This is a sure fire way to ensure you’re remember what the holidays are all about – giving, not receiving. Especially to those who aren’t as fortunate. Not only will you be helping those in need, but you’ll feel amazing in the process. Find a charity that you’re passionate about or volunteer at your local food &/or women’s shelter. You can also deliver meals to the elderly, or visit a nursing home and volunteer to read to those who don’t have any family. Some children’s hospitals will allow you to drop off toys to the kiddos who can’t go home for Christmas – personally, this is my favorite way to give back.
6. Stick to a routine.
Even if you’re traveling for the holidays, keep up with your skincare routine, honor the hours you need for a good night’s sleep, find ways to exercise regardless of your holiday plans and watch your sugar intake. BY NO MEANS am I saying no holiday cookies for you. Yeah, right. I love holiday cookies and indulge heavily, but I keep a good balance. Whether that’s a hefty green smoothie for breakfast or a salad at lunch, I make it work to my benefit so that I’m not lethargic and a bummer of a human being. :)
Remember, celebrating the holidays were never supposed to be a chaotic stressful event. On the contrary – it’s meant to evoke peace and joy. Warm, cozy feelings. Calm and intentional behavior. A season of slow harvest. A time for rest. Take care of yourself this season and please don’t put yourself on the back burner. The only person responsible for your health and happiness is you. Here to help should you need reminders throughout this season. x