The holidays are a time for family and cheer, but making sure the house is clean, the food is ready, and the presents are wrapped and ready to be opened can be overwhelming. These factors can bring unwanted stress and depression in a time meant for happiness.
Some important, practical tips can help minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. These tips may even help you enjoy the holidays more than expected.
Through the endless parties, cooking, shopping and cleaning, try taking one of 9 steps to ensure you have a stress-free holiday:
- Plan ahead.
Between co-workers, friends and family, it’s inevitable that some commitments will end up on the same day. Make sure to plan on what you can attend in person or virtually. If you’re hosting the holidays, create a menu to help you stay organized and make grocery shopping easier.
- Say no.
With holiday commitments, it is OK to say no to a few or all of them. It also will help relieve some stress. Try sharing your to-do list with other family members.
- Plan spending.
The holidays mean spending money. Make a budget and stick to it. Spending money on your loved ones is important, but it’s also important to pay your energy bill. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll be paying off for the rest of the year.
- Create relaxing surroundings.
Turn on some music, light some candles or open the windows on a sunny day. Research has found that listening to music and the scent of citrus can boost feelings of well-being, and vitamin D is always a happiness booster.
- Maintain healthy habits.
The holidays are notorious for ruining healthy habits. A short workout each morning will help your decision-making throughout the day. Encourage your family to try snow shoeing or sledding to get in extra exercise. Eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit or vegetables throughout the season and to fill up before a dinner party or celebration with tempting, but unhealthy, foods.
- Share feelings.
Spending a holiday after a loss in the family can be difficult. Accept your feelings and open up about them to others. It may make you feel better to share. Try to switch up old traditions to ease the loss.
- Respect differences.
Family members will have different viewpoints than your own. Try your best to forgive and forget this holiday season. Focus on your similarities and replace tension with something productive.
- Be realistic.
You are only one person, and you can only do so much. Be realistic with how much you can handle this season. Forget about perfection, and relax and enjoy the company surrounding you.
- Respond with Kindness
You can’t change how others act during the stresses of the holiday season, but you can change how you respond to situations as we are in charge of our ourselves including how we respond. Keep in mind that the holidays are especially difficult for those who are alone. See if you can extend an act of kindness to those you know are without family and friends during this time of year. If things get tense, take a few deep breaths. Just taking a few breaths can shift things and give you a different/new perspective.
- Take a break.
Don’t forget about your own needs. Take a nap, go for a short walk, read a book or watch a funny movie. Laughing relaxes the whole body, and can relieve physical tension and stress.
- Rethink Your Resolutions.
Typical News Year’s resolutions can set you up for failure. Here are some tips for success:
- Start small. Break your goal into tinier steps over the course of the year. If weight loss is your goal, it doesn’t have to be drastic. Try to eat more veggies during your first month and gradually cut back on sweets throughout the year.
- Be kind to yourself. If you didn’t achieve last year’s resolution or stray from the path this time around, let it go. “We often contrive these stories (‘I’m never going to quit smoking!’) that only add to our distress.” “With practice, we can notice this self-critic, let go of that negativity and pick our goals back up without the guilt or shame.”
Holidays are meant to be a fun, enjoyable time with friends and family. These tips can help ensure you truly enjoy your holidays when stress starts to set in.
References: Mayo Clinic & Hopkins Medicine