Do you get excited or overwhelmed around the holidays? Does the idea of shopping, sending Christmas cards, parties, and presents send you running away? It can feel like a lot of pressure to attend every gathering, buy the perfect gifts, bake delicious cookies, keep up family traditions, and try to make everyone happy. All while trying to maintain your normal routine and daily responsibilities.
The holidays can certainly be stressful, busy, and difficult to manage. Not to mention the difficult emotions added if you’ve lost a loved one, experienced divorce or separation, or are dealing with an illness.
Here are some tips that can help you stay calm admidst the stress holidays can often bring.
1. Breathe and be mindful. Add in a 5-10 minute break each day and spend some time taking deep breaths and looking for ways to be more present in the moment. If you have loved ones, take time to just be with them instead of running around checking things off your list. Look at adding a mindfulness exercise or meditation app on your phone that you can access daily. Check out HeadSpace, Calm, or Happy not Perfect apps and see the difference a little self-care can make in your daily routine.
2. Prioritize. So much to do and so little time? Maybe you do have to attend one work party, but trying to attend every holiday gathering may not be feasible. It’s easy to also overcommit to others during the holidays. Take a moment and decide what you want to spend your time on this season and fully enjoy those moments!
3. Set limits on eating, drinking, and time. Overeating and over drinking are common complaints after the holidays. Create and follow through on limits for yourself and ask someone to hold you accountable. If you experience depression or anxiety, often over consuming food/alcohol can increase symptoms so be mindful of what you choose. Buying presents? Avoid crowds by shopping online. Entertaining the family for a celebration? Ask everyone to contribute to a potluck meal instead of making it all yourself.
4. Realistic Expectations. Whether you’re on a budget and feel pressured to buy expensive gifts or feel stressed at the idea of needing everything to go perfect, remember it’s okay for things to be smaller, low key, and even messy. Life won’t always go the way you plan and it’s okay to have less and do less if that means saving you some stress.
5. Experiences over gifts. Let’s face it, kids and even some adults won’t understand your financial situation. Consider doing a fun activity, starting a new tradition, or something interactive instead of tons of gifts. Try a Secret Santa gift exchange, viewing Christmas lights around town, attending a play at a local theatre, volunteering for those in need, or donating to a charity in someone’s name. Having experiences together is always more memorable than the gifts under the tree.
Remember to slow down and take time for self-care, quality time with those you love, and find the joy that can come with the season. Look for ways to give back and notice others in the giving spirit. Feeling lonely this holiday? Don’t forget to reach out to friends and family, or participate in community events. If you are struggling during the holidays, speak up and find support. If there is no one close by, consider reaching out to a therapist who may be able to help you better understand and cope during this time.
Here’s to a less stressed holiday!