As the Holidays get closer, many of us feel more pressure to “get things done,” entertain and please others and try to fit “it all in.” Here are Eight Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress
- Don’t over extend. Adding too much to your plate can turn what should be holiday fun into a miserable stress event. If asked to host a party and you’re already inundated, don’t say yes. Instead, consider helping with smaller tasks – maybe offer to help clean up or even host next year when there is time to plan and prioritize. Make time to stop for a few moments during your busy holiday schedule. Breathe in an attitude of ease, breathe out the stress. Keeping tabs on your personal energy allows you the opportunity to stop stress before it grows into overwhelm.
- Utilize mobile tools to help keep stress in check. The Inner Balance trainer for example, helps you synchronize your breathing with your heart rhythms, a type of meditation in itself. It helps reduce the negative effects of stress and improve mental clarity with just a few minutes of daily use. This kind of practice also helps create a new habit of catching and shifting stress before it has a chance to negatively impact you. Having something like this on hand just might make your holiday season a little more cheery.
- Keep expectations realistic. Holiday celebrations are rarely perfect. View the inevitable slip-ups as opportunities to demonstrate your flexibility. A ruined turkey dinner or toppled Christmas tree doesn’t have to ruin anyone’s holiday, but it can create a funny family memory. Lightening up a little, keeping a sense of humor, and letting go of the idea of perfection can help keep stress in check.
- Don’t overspend. Create a reasonable budget and stick to it. A good practice for holiday spending is to set aside money six months before holiday shopping starts. Some credit unions have a holiday savings program that lets you automatically direct deposit cash each month – and to help you save they generally have a small penalty if you withdraw before the holidays.
- Watch your diet and remember to exercise. It’s completely normal to indulge a little during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods can affect your mood. Fats and sweets may actually cause you to have less energy, which adds to feeling stressed. To counter these effects, take walks before and/or after holiday meals to get the blood flowing and burn off a few extra calories.
- Prepare for holiday travel. Inevitably, holiday travel (especially with kids) is at the top of many parents’ stress list. If you’re doing a road trip or traveling by air, be sure to pack lots of healthy snacks and fun activities – and to keep electronics going, pack a portable battery . Keeping kids entertained for long periods of time can make a huge difference when it comes to minimizing travel stress.
- Seek support and ask for help. Don’t bottle up anxiety! Talk about your stressors with family and friends, and use your support system. Getting things off your chest can help you to better navigate your feelings and draw on your practical intuition to find creative solutions. Talking things out when you’re feeling overwhelmed can also help you get a fresh perspective.
- Give to those in need. Volunteering is a great way to feel more connected and less stressed. While most of us are focusing on gifts for our own families, shift some of that attention and energy to families less fortunate than yours. Consider matching an amount you would ordinarily spend on your own family and donate the money towards a good cause. Contribute to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club holiday party, or contact a local church to help sponsor families struggling to buy holiday gifts for their kids. Volunteering at a local food bank or soup kitchen is another great way to feel more meaning and connection during the holidays –and it’s de-stressing at the same time.