How to effectively manage holiday stress and find joy during the busiest time of the year.
Am I the only one that finds the holidays the most wonderful time but also the most difficult time of the year?
Oh sure. I enjoy decking the halls and listening to Christmas music around the clock – but I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the pressures of the season. Without fail, every single December I find myself wishing for more hours in the day. I feel like I’m constantly racing against the clock with a mile-long to-do list and only so many hours in the day to get everything done. It can be a bit much.
On Sunday morning, I awoke with a sore throat, aches and stuffly nose. After days of go – go – go I thought that’s it. I cannot afford to get sick. There’s no way! So I did what I truly did not want to do and truly don’t think I had the time to do: I hit the pause button. I took the full day to truly rest. That, coupled with an amped up diet of apples and oranges, seemed to do the trick because 24 hours later I was feeling much more human.
The lesson to me there? If I want to make it through the busiest month of the year – I’m going to have to take time to take care of myself. Otherwise I’m going to end up a rugged zombie and that will be of no use to anyone.
How to Manage Holiday Stress
The truth is, the holidays are great – but they’re also stressful. To help you navigate the craziest time of the year, I wanted to reflect on how to manage holiday stress and share ways that are practical as well as useful.
For you below I’m sharing tips I’ve found to help me manage holiday stress, but I’m also opening this up to you! If you have any tips that work well for you, please lemme know.
Do Something For Yourself Every Single Day
As pressures mount, it’s oh so easy to put ourselves last. “Me time” can feel selfish and frivolous when there’s much to be done. But in my experience? It’s absolutely necessary if you expect to make it through the holiday season without fully burning out.
Go to the gym, do 10 minutes of medication, watch an episode of your favorite tv show, listen to a podcast, have a mug of hot chocolate by the Christmas tree or even take a nice long bath. Whatever you do, is up to you. The point? To MAKE time to do something for yourself every single day.
I have any active imagination and my dreams don’t always line up with what’s possible in reality. This can come to life in many ways, from overly ambitious plans for holiday baking and cooking decorating to how much I can tackle in a work day. I use to subscribe to the idea that everything was better done really really well or not at all. Then I got real with myself. Does anyone ACTUALLY care if your Christmas cookies are hand-decorated to perfection? Do you have to prepare a full spread of food or would picking up a deli tray and or sweets from a nice bakery do? Is there something on your to-do list that could possibly wait till AFTER the holidays?
The limits are endless here. We all let our imaginations and intentions run wild during the holiday season, but if you want to successfully manage holiday stress — you’re going to have to get real. Remember: yes you can do it all but you absolutely cannot do it all well. Prioritize.
Limit Alcohol Intake
I admit, a glass of wine or a hot toddy at the end of a long day is awfully appealing. But when I’m feeling particularly stressed and anxious? I find they can easily have the reverse effect and make me feel even worse.
Alcohol without question also disrupts your sleep, which is an obvious essential for managing stress. So my advice? Limit your alcohol intake. Don’t feel you have to completely deprive yourself, but be careful and drink wisely.
End Each Day with a Moment of Joy
During the holiday rush, it can be oh so easy to forget to experience the joy of the season. We race from one thing to the next, stressed about XYZ. Our blood pressures can rise, we may get testy with one another and we overlook what we’ve been looking forward to all year long.
With all that in mind, one of my favorite ways to manage holiday stress is to end each day by reflecting on something that brought me joy. That could be as big as a wonderful holiday celebration or as small as singing along to my favorite song in the car while racing to my next appointment. The idea is to be present and appreciate the joy of the season in some capacity during the holidays. It will be cold, dark and gray January before we know it! So, savor the good moments when you can.
Ask for Help
We often think we have to shoulder responsibility alone and ignore the possibility of asking for help. The holiday season in general is all about togetherness, so in my book there’s no better time of year to try and rally up a little help.
Everyone is in the spirit of wanting to help out where they can, so accept help when you need it.
Let Go of Perfection and Laugh
My last suggestion for how to manage holiday stress? Let go of those Pinterest board pictures of perfection and enjoy yourself. Find humor where you can and remember that the most important thing about the holidays is togetherness. Spend time with those you love and treasure those moments. That’s what truly matters at the end of the day.
One example of me letting go of perfection and laughing? The fact that I am chuckling over how nervous of the camera little Rosebud was taking these photos. She’s a squirrly girl and it was quite comical watching my mom try to snap these pictures of us beside a tree. In the end, the pictures aren’t what I had in mind but the fond memory of taking them? That’s what counts.
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