We love making holiday plans, don’t we? Sometimes it can be as fun as the actual holidays themselves. But somewhere along the way, all the pressure and responsibility sets in, and we start to feel the stress that this time of year can bring. The good news is that there are ways to help handle these stresses. Here are some holiday stress tips that you can use.
Let’s paint a picture. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. We’re listening to Michael Buble’s annual album, and we have to pick the perfect gifts and decorate the house. We meet and call people we haven’t spoken to all year. We have to prepare an outstanding dinner. The list goes on and on, and before we even realize it, the holiday stress hits, and it hits hard.
Good thing that here we have an action plan on how to beat holiday anxiety, unnecessary nerve-wracking moments, and any additional stress. Remember that you don’t need to run around like Rudolph because the best ways to have a great time are simple yet effective.
Now, without further ado, scroll below to find some very helpful holiday stress tips (better to call them smart ways) to skip the holiday blues and make the greatest time of year an even greater one. Que the carol singers!
10 HOLIDAY STRESS TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY THIS SEASON:
1. Plan your spending budget in advance
Sure, the financial stress is not something Mariah Carey would turn into a song, but it is an inevitable part of the holiday season. You need to get something for your close friends, parents, BF, grandparents, co-workers, and probably that cousin you haven’t seen in ten years but who’s coming to the family dinner. My advice towards holiday shopping (without dropping too much money) is to splurge extra $ on your closest ones and get the others less expensive, thoughtful gifts. There are some pretty good store-bought gift options. I have some great gift guides you can get inspired by here. Try not to spend over the amount you’ve set, in advance. No one expects diamonds or exotic vacations, so there’s no need to max out your credit cards. You’re not Santa Claus, after all.
2. Manage your expectations
Party planning is your superpower, and you want everything to be perfect? We’ve all been there. We were there last year too. Keep in mind that no matter how hard you try, there will always be at least one Grinch complaining the turkey is too dry (or not dry enough), the lights are blinking way too hard, and the expensive gift you bought them is not good enough. Don’t set your expectations too high, that’s the only way to manage them, reduce your stress level, and not feel like the biggest failure in case something gets out of control. After all, it’s not your fault if aunt Ashley drinks copious amounts of eggnog and starts singing old Christmas classics to your bae, who’s meeting them for the first time. Practice deep breathing, everything will be alright. Oh, and maybe still warn your guests about aunt Ashley’s sense of humor.
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3. Acknowledge your feelings
Just because everyone else is happy and having a joyful time, that doesn’t mean you have to push yourself to fit in too. Don’t fake it if you don’t feel like it. If you have lost someone you love and are having a tough time, it’s okay to feel the way you feel. It’s okay to miss them and not be in the holiday spirit. Add the work stress, the gift shopping, and thousands of other things you have to finish before approaching the lunch table, and feelings of anxiety might kick harder than expected. Acknowledge your emotions, acknowledge now’s the moment to sit back, relax and appreciate the holiday cheer.
4. Set boundaries
There IS such a thing as too much ‘togetherness’ during the perfect holiday. Therefore, setting boundaries is more important than ever, to keep your mental health intact. If you need some time alone to read a book (or scroll through IG purposeless), find a quiet place to do so. No matter how much we adore our family members and friends, we have to admit that sometimes they are the biggest causes of stress. Plus, it would be easier not to scream out loud when your uncle is coming nearby to ask when you’ll go down the aisle or have dozens of babies. Set limits. Have some you-time.
5. Maintain healthy habits
Yes, you read that correctly. Maintain healthy habits and healthy ways to get through the end of the year. I know it sounds impossible, and even JLo doesn’t share workout routines during the holiday season, but if you don’t want to feel like a balloon on New Year’s Eve, it’s important to set boundaries in terms of food and alcohol consumption. Sure, hit up a couple of glasses of wine, but for each, drink a glass of water. The potato mash and the chocolate pudding are super delicious, but may not be considered healthy food. So don’t forget some *actual* healthy snacks and sneak in regular exercise, even if that means going out for a short walk in between meals. It’s the only way to support your immune system and keep it all together through the holidays.
6. Remove yourself from the situation
The holiday season requires quality time with loved ones, so any attempt in the other direction means a negative impact. I’m not saying we should quit and drink red wine all day long, but if you’re in a messy mood and your constant babbling interferes with the vibe, talking about them is the best thing we could do. However, when it comes to family gatherings, family problems are not a part of the festivities. Try not to give each other a hard time. If nothing works, moving away from the situation in a graceful manner is an option to avoid feelings of stress. Think of Blake Lively-announcing-her-pregnancy-kind-of-graceful. Which brings us to…
7. Make time for yourself
We have already hated this piece of advice, but making time for yourself is crucial during the most wonderful time of the year. Staying alone for a couple of minutes (read: hours) is a great way to decompress and appreciate even more the holly jolly atmosphere after that. Listen to your favorite music, video chat with a friend who’s away, and please, get enough sleep. I’m sure it sounds like a challenge but go for it. Then put on ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ or ‘Let It Snow’, and enjoy the present moment.
8. Work/life balance
Sticking to a daily routine is something we do for the rest of the year, but once December rolls around, the holiday spirit takes over, and we suddenly want to conclude the work day before it’s even started. We are all looking for this perfect work/life balance, but until we find it, it’s important thing is to prioritize. Finish as many tasks as possible before December 22nd, feel free to enjoy longer coffee breaks (especially if you are WFH), and don’t answer that phone call after 6pm. You have other important things to do right now. That encore of ‘Home Alone 2’ is not on TV for no reason. Even if you are a workaholic (welcome to the club), put everything aside and take a minute. There are enough stressful situations, don’t make this another one. You’ll have enough time after January 1st.
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9. Make a to-do list
There’s something pretty charming in the Christmas season, and that’s the spontaneity that comes with it. The realization you don’t have to wake up at 8:30 AM, the fact you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in front of the TV, etc. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true. You can’t deny it. There are a lot of things to be done, though. A shopping list, a holiday meal plan, the holiday party invitation list… Curating a carefully planned to-do list can save your life if you take all points into consideration. It’s the only way to keep track of tasks. Turn it into a seasonal pattern, but don’t freak out if your guests show up 3 minutes late for the Christmas dinner.
10. Focus on what you can control
The only way to avoid too much stress is to focus on what you can control. I mean neither the unexpectedly sunnier day that makes you think it’s Easter rather than Christmas nor the gift shopping queue at the mall. It’s easier to avoid high blood pressure and symptoms of depression when you take a look on the bright side. We all want to share memories, that’s a great thing. Take good use of this information, appreciate what you got, kill others with kindness, and simply enjoy the moment! At the end of it all, just remind yourself of what this season is really about. The important things are not stressful. Everything else is just extra. Regardless of what the holidays throw at you this year, remember this: You can handle it.
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