10 Tips for De-Stressing at the Holidays

The holidays can mean different things to different people. For some it is a time to express love to their family and for others it is a reminder that their family is not what they would like it to be. For many people, the holidays can become a stressful time, even when it is also a time of joy. Increased commitments, social engagements, and financial expenses can take its toll on anyone. In the list below, I provide some helpful thoughts and ideas about how to make your holiday as stress-free and fun as possible!

10 Tips for De-Stressing at the Holidays

1)     Whose mindset is it anyway?

Are the holidays really stressful or are you buying into someone else’s ideas of the holiday season? Or an old story you are telling yourself? Sometimes we thing the holidays are stressful because we perceive them to be busier or more complicated, but is that true? Perhaps not. Perhaps this is an old story that you are just used to telling yourself or perhaps that was how your mother used to react to the holidays. When you feel yourself saying, “I’m so stressed. The holidays are so busy.,” ask yourself is that my story or someone else’s? Am I ready to have a different thought about this season? Inquire about your expectations for the holiday season, where they come from, and if they are serving you. If they aren’t, choose to let them go.

2)     Take control of your schedule.

Many people find themselves over-committed during the holiday season. They feel obliged to say yes to every invitation, secret Santa, and holiday parties. But you are the only one in control of your schedule. Don’t give that over to anyone else. Feel free to say no to unnecessary events or additional spending. In addition, don’t throw away your self-care routines and good habits. Now is the time you need them the most. Don’t schedule perceived obligations during your self-care time. Your routines will give you the foundation to handle the additional expectations of the holiday season.

3)     Choose when and where to indulge and only do it then.

During the holidays people tend to overdo it with food and drink. It’s a time of celebration. There are constant opportunities for sweets and plenty of reasons to give yourself an excuse to indulge. However, these added non-nutritive foods and alcohol can really impact your mood, your energy, your sleep and your perception of the holiday season. They may be fun in the moment, but overindulging can lead you to feeling down, grumpy, sluggish, and guilty. It’s okay to indulge, but decide where and when you are going to and then stick to your plan.

4)     Proper nutrition

Obviously, this goes with #3. A healthy diet will help you manage the bumps in the road for when you do choose to indulge. It will also give you more energy, stamina, and an overall feeling of good health to get you through the holiday season. A healthy diet can be a buffer for holiday stress and overindulgences. Try planning your meals ahead of time or keeping healthy snacks on hand for when the treats arrive at the office.

5)     Proper rest

Rest is crucial to well being. Rest means getting a good nights sleep, taking naps when needed and having down time. Sleep helps our brains and bodies to heal. A lack of sleep interferes with the ability to learn, the ability to manage stress, decreases our immunity and can cause weight gain. If you know you have a big event and will be out late, try getting a nap. Again, stay in charge of your schedule and schedule in your proper rest and down time. It’s okay to spend a day in front of the fire, drinking hot cocoa and listening to holiday music.

6)     Exercise

Exercise is one of the best natural cures to stress, depression, and anxiety. Use this as part of your self-care routine and don’t let it go by the wayside when you get busy. It is the foundation of good health; both mental and physical. It will help you cope with whatever arises, it will keep your immune system strong and it will help you burn off stress and increase feel good hormones and neurotransmitters. Now is not the time to miss your workout.

7)     Take time during the day for a nervous system reset: Meditation, breath work, yoga

Stress is going to happen. So what can you do about it? Reset your nervous system. Take a few minutes to take 3-5 deep breaths, download a 5 minute guided meditation (and use it),or take a walk outside. We need to reset our nervous system from the hustle and bustle of the day. Taking this time actually enhances our productivity, focus and overall sense of well being; so don’t be afraid to do it.

8)     Vitamin D3 and/or sunlight

For many of us this time of year, we do not get enough vitamin D or sunlight. Vitamin D has been found to be correlated to mood. Higher levels of vitamin D produce a more positive mood, while lower levels are associated with depression. Whenever you can, get outside in the sun, take a walk and feel the sun on your face. If you live in a cloudy climate, consider taking vitamin D. You might also try light therapy. Light therapy uses a particular type of light to simulate sun exposure and can help improve mood during the darker seasons.

9)     Self-compassion

Be kind and gentle with yourself. We often think of compassion for others, but not for ourselves. Chances are you may act like Wonder Woman in your life, but you’re not. Set realistic expectations for yourself, allow yourself to cancel plans if you are just too tired or overwhelmed. Show yourself love and set healthy boundaries for yourself, your relationships, and your schedule.

10)  Celebrate and Have Fun!

Finally, Enjoy! Be present to the festivities and excitement of the holidays. Stop and savor the positive experiences like the twinkling lights or the excitement of the children around you. Focus on the gratitude you have for all that you have in your life and all of the reasons you are busy: because you love and are loved. Soak it all in and make sure to savor your favorite parts of the holidays!

Happy Holidays! Wishing you the best year yet!