Holidays are a time for friends and family, get-togethers, joy, laughter, and presents! But the holidays can also be an extremely stressful time or a time that triggers a lot of challenging emotions. Here are 12 tips to manage holiday stress.
For myself, the holidays are a mix of emotions. I love decorating and baking. I love hosting parties. I love the twinkling lights and visiting and I especially love the wine. But travelling and social situations cause me a ton of anxiety. The holidays also bring up a lot of grief, pain, and a sense of extreme loss for me. Not having my father anymore and having a mom that is ill has totally shifted how my holidays play out. I am very grateful to have a family-in-law that takes me in as one of their own and I have good friends that check in on me. But it doesn’t change the fact that the holidays look and feel very different and I’m still getting used to the new normal.
12 Tips to Manage Holiday Stress:
1) Share the load
If you are anything like me, you have trouble delegating tasks because of the possibility that the tasks won’t be done to your expectations. It’s the perfectionist and OCD tendencies. But especially during the holidays, you need to share the load to help reduce holiday stress. Delegate some of the tasks like; cleaning, grocery shopping, decorating, and gift shopping. Be honest, explain to your partner or the kids that you need and would appreciate their help.
2) Say No
The holiday season is filled with parties, gift giving, baking, travelling, etc. But, it’s ok to decline an invitation. Saying yes when you want to say no can bring up emotions of resentment and leave you feeling overwhelmed. Also remember, you do not need to provide a reason that you can not attend. Just say “I am so sorry, I’m not available that day. Thanks for the invite.” If you get flustered or feel pressured to say yes have a response ready “Let me check my calendar and get back to you.” But be sure to get back to the person with your no when you feel more composed.
3) Take the Necessary Time for Self-Care
Between entertaining, cleaning, shopping, and holiday parties sometimes its hard to find time for yourself. Spending some self-care time will help you recharge and stay balanced. When you do not take care of yourself everyone will suffer. You can become irritable, overwhelmed, and resentful. Those feelings sure take the joy out of the holidays. Here are some easy self-care activities.
4) Be Realistic
Again for the perfectionists, 🙋♀️the holidays don’t need to be perfect and truthfully no one will remember the small details you are stressing over. To be realistic you will need to challenge your thinking. Are your expectations realistic? Are your expectations too high that you will undoubtedly be disappointed? Are you putting expectations on others without communicating your wants and needs? Remember, you cannot control other peoples thoughts or feelings, you can only control your own.
5) Stick to a Budget
Financial stressed is linked to many health problems like depression and sleep problems. This might not cause stress instantly but it sure will in January or when the credit card bill comes. You cannot buy happiness, instead, focus on what you can afford and make memories different ways than with purchased gifts. Spend some time figuring out what your budget is the holiday season (gifts, groceries, travel) and don’t stretch yourself so thin that you will be playing catchup for the next few months.
6) Plan Ahead
Having a plan reduces a lot of stress because you are prepared. Sit down and spend an hour planning. Plan your menus, make the grocery list, and shopping lists. This will help you stay on budget and avoid last-minute impulse purchases. It will also help you share the load since you have a plan and lists to delegate to others.
7) Shop Online
Some people love taking in the store displays and wandering around looking at everything and some people hate it. If you are the latter, try to do most of your shopping online. You can also order your groceries online and get them delivered or click & collect. This takes out the stress of parking, crowds, and lineups and frees up more time for friends and family or some self-care time.
8) Be Present
Relax and take it in. I remember my mom would be run off her feet at Christmas with cooking and cleaning. Often, she wouldn’t even eat Christmas dinner because she spent all day preparing it. As a child watching that, I grew up thinking that’s what the holidays were for adults busy, stressful and unenjoyable. But they aren’t. The holidays are for fun and laughter, for creating memories and spending time with the people we love. So, take the time to be present and to be in the moment.
9) Get Outside
There are many benefits of nature for managing mental health. I know its tempting to kick the kids outside so you can get some presents wrapped and other things done, but take some time to go out with them. Even 15 minutes to build a snowman or walk around the block or go on a winter/holiday scavenger hunt. The fresh air will help you feel rejuvenated and allow you to get a good sleep.
10) Use Calming Strategies
It is almost inevitable that someone will irritate you or you will feel overwhelmed or stressed but you are in control of you. Use calming techniques to help yourself not get sucked into the vortex of anger. Try deep breathing exercises, stretching, affirmations, or meditation.
11) Acknowledge Your Feelings
The holidays make me sad. They also make me angry. They also make me happy and filled with love. Don’t bury your feelings, acknowledge them and decide if they are helpful or hurtful and come up with a strategy to manage them. Some strategies are journaling, meditation, thought records, or affirmations.
12) Be Grateful
Show gratitude for what you do have. For the friends and family around you, for great food and sweet treats, for a warm house, for twinkling lights and wrapping paper. Show appreciation and return the kindness around you.
Holiday stress is pretty much inevitable, but by using these tips you will be the one in control and you will have a much more peaceful and joy-filled holiday.
~ Lacey ~