As wonderful as the holiday season can be, it can also be a time of high stress and anxiety for many people. We put together this list of eight tips to help you navigate the bustling festivities while boosting your mood and managing the external stressors that come with the season.
8 Tips to Minimize Stress During the Holiday Season
1. Maintain a balance: Don’t overschedule.
It will become tempting to participate in every single holiday festivity that comes your way, but stop and think about your personal bandwidth before committing to the amount of shopping, cooking, baking, card-writing, parties and charity events that you can handle, without compromising your health. An overbooked schedule can very easily leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious and stressed.
2. Set a budget.
It’s incredibly easy to overspend during the holidays, so remind yourself that there is absolutely NO reason to go overboard when purchasing food and gifts. Your loved ones already know how much you love them, and the age-old saying will always remain true: you can’t buy happiness (or love). Set your budget NOW before the holiday rush begins, and STICK TO IT. Some creative ways to keep your spending low include giving homemade gifts, donating to a charity in a loved one’s name, baking up holiday treats and starting a family gift exchange.
3. Move your body.
Between holiday obligations and deliciously festive treats, it will be as important as ever to keep your body moving. Not only does exercise diminish your body’s levels of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones), but it also induces your body’s production of endorphins (mood-boosting chemicals). Maintaining an active routine with regular exercise has been proven to reduce stress and stress-related symptoms, including irritability, insomnia, anger and panic. Regular physical activity can not only minimize mental symptoms of stress, but can assist your body in easing itself from physical symptoms as well, leaving your energized, stronger and increasingly motivated.
4. Take the time to be thankful (and choose to see things with a positive mindset).
In the coming weeks, you will likely be spending more time with friends and family than you do the rest of the year. The constant contact may become overwhelming, and you may become irritated by your aunt’s “nagging” comments, and your grandfather’s criticism. You may feel annoyed by the amount of extra work you need to do in order to prepare for you cousin’s visit, or your niece’s holiday party. Hit pause, and re-evaluate every single situation and interaction with a positive and thankful mindset. You will very quickly realize that your aunt’s comments are made out of loving concern, and your grandfather’s criticism is made with the best intentions at heart. Your cousin can’t wait to see you, and your niece has been looking forward to planning a holiday party with you for the past 2 months. Remind yourself that this time of year only truly does come once a year, and that things you may take for granted now are soon to become memories that you will fondly cherish.
5. Eat mindfully.
Pecan pie. Gingerbread cookies. Sugar cookies. Turkey. Gravy. Stuffing. Potatoes. Shortbread. Candy canes. Wine by the bottle. Champagne. Holiday cocktails. The holidays are here, and the struggle to maintain a healthy balance has arrived. We’re all about treating ourselves during the holiday season, but doing so in a mindful manner (check out our list of healthy tips to eat mindfully during the holiday season). Mindful eating is the practice of applying the principles of mindfulness to your every day eating. In other words, it helps you gain control over your what you eat, and enhances your food experience by helping you to be present with every bite and to savor not only the taste but also the positive effects that the food has on your body. By eating mindfully, you can truly savor the flavors of the season!
6. Forget old traditions (and start new ones!).
Just because something has always been a tradition doesn’t mean that it needs to stay that way. If executing an old tradition causes more stress than it does good, then why hold onto it for old times’ sake? Some traditions are best left in the past, especially if they no longer hold the value that they did in years prior. If you have gone through life changes in recent years, you may even want to consider starting new traditions that are free of the stress-inducing confines of restrictive traditions.
7. Treat yourself.
While you’re busy shopping, baking, cooking and hosting others, don’t forget about yourself! Take a deep breath and make sure to give yourself a tad bit of extra pampering during this busy season: go for a massage, do some yoga, hit up your favorite workout class one extra time, take a few hours to get to the spa, or simply light a candle and meditate at home! Taking care of your own personal health and being the best version of YOU is the greatest gift you can give to your loved ones.
8. Volunteer & spread some cheer!
Volunteering is one of the most incredible acts because it not only benefits the recipient, but it also benefits the volunteer with mental and physical health-boosting effects. By volunteering, you are not only -- literally -- giving your time for the benefit of others, but you are also bringing fulfillment, purpose and joy to your own life.
How do you like to eat mindfully over the holidays? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Tag us on Instagram for a chance to be featured on our page.
By Lauren Kelly Bienko