‘Tis the season to be jolly! For many, the holiday season is time for cheer and celebrating with loved ones. But it can also be a time of extra stress, pressure and items on the to-do list. Add regular or increased work assignments and the season’s social engagements, and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
One of the most common things people stress about during the holidays is buying gifts. Setting a budget and focusing on what it means to give a gift may help remove some of the pressure. If your budget is smaller this year, consider giving homemade gifts or having a family gift exchange where you exchange names and buy for only one person. This can help reduce spending while also taking away the stress of having to buy gifts for multiple people.
Dealing with toxic relatives also tops the list for many as a holiday stressor. If you know you’re going into a social situation with a toxic relative, take time to relax and mentally prepare before the get-together. It can also help to limit your interactions with them – be cordial but stick to socializing with other family members. It may also help to put yourself in their shoes and think about how they are coping with the holidays. Gaining insight into what’s going on in their life may help you feel less stressed during your interactions with them.
Here are some additional tips to stay healthy and stress free during the holidays:
- Be strategic about what you eat. Remember – the holidays are a time for celebration but not a reason to overindulge. You can take part in traditions and enjoy a few treats without overdoing it. A few tips for eating healthier during the holiday season include eating a small snack before going to an event, eating off a smaller plate, taking your time eating and being mindful about what you’re eating. For more healthy eating tips during the holidays, read Healthy Holiday Eating Tips.
- Exercise. Unfortunately, exercise is usually the first thing to go when things get busy. Although you might not be able to stick with your usual workout routine, it’s still important to do what you can. Even 15-20 minutes per day of activity can do wonders for your physical and mental health.
- Don’t overextend yourself. Know your limits and be okay with saying no to things that you don’t have time for or aren’t interested in doing. This also goes for holiday get-togethers – it’s okay to say no to second servings of food or alcohol.
- Accept imperfections. Many people feel increased pressure around the holidays to make everything perfect for their families. We have this idea that if we don’t live up to these unrealistic expectations, the holidays will be ruined. Grant yourself a bit of grace during this time and remember that nothing is perfect in life. People aspire to have the picture-perfect holiday but no one will remember if you took the perfect picture for the family card or slaved away in the kitchen for hours. What they will remember and cherish are the memories that were created.
- Plan and do things in advance. Make your to-do list and check it twice. This will also help you prioritize what’s most important to you and your family. Pick one or two things you absolutely want to do and make a point of doing those things, rather than feel like you must accept every invitation and do everything. You can also try to take care of tasks in advance when possible. For example, instead of waiting until the last minute to buy gifts, go early before the stores are packed. If you are hosting a party, make a few things in advance so you’re not scrambling as your guests are arriving.
- Try meditation. Mindfulness meditation works to help you focus your attention and get away from the stream of thoughts that may be causing your stress or anxiety. You are then better able to handle difficult situation with clarity and calmness.
If you’re struggling with your physical or mental health during the holiday season, reach out to your primary care provider. He or she can help direct you to find solutions so you feel better. To learn more, visit us online or call 630-527-6363.