The holidays are a time for family, friends and festivities. However, the stress of holiday shopping, cooking and entertaining can take a toll on your mental health. Seventy percent of us experience stress of not having enough time. Sounds familiar?
If you are searching for ways to enjoy more and stress less, let's discuss how to make your holiday season a time for pure celebration. Here are 10 simple steps to lower your stress levels and help just relax and create lasting memories.
10 steps to reduce stress during the holiday season:
It doesn't have to be perfect. Let's say that again to all of the perfectionists reading this, who already have lists made, journals filled and are neurotically scanning for sales to purchase gifts before stores run out of items you HAVE TO HAVE.
In the 90's, Cabbage Patch Dolls were flying off the toy shelves. If this occurrence happened today, TikTok would chronicle the crazy, lunatic parents, sprinting down Toys R US aisles, grabbing dolls from one another. Total chaos! - over a doll they had to have. Was it really worth the stress? Maybe they could have lowered their anxiety and just bought a barbie.
Plan and budget. Times are tough and money truly does not grow on trees so take a deep breath and just be practical. Your kids will remember the traditions you create and that Cabbage Patch Doll that you, or your mom may ( or may not have) been able to grab, is replaced by the memories. Traditions last.
- It's okay to say NO. Skip the nutcracker. If you must go, then go. But remember that it is okay to say no to a party, an invite at the office (yes, even the office) and just make time for yourself and your family. And….If you feel tremendous pressure to go, maybe you should say no?
Keep moving! Time for yourself is a must. Yes, we are talking exercise. If you don't take time out to move your body, workout or just go for a walk, your stresses will compound. The world and your daily habits should not stop because the holidays are around the corner. Keep moving your body!
Remind yourself of what is important. True story....An 8 year old watched her mother carefully remove a VERY LARGE stuffed turkey from the oven on Christmas Day. Her Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and 3 cars full of cousins were over for Christmas dinner. Everyone was hungry....As the turkey came out of the oven, this 8 year old watched in horror as it fell on the kitchen floor. Then the family dog pounced on it and started tearing it apart. Her mother started to cry and her Dad quickly scooped it away from the dog and onto the counter. Every Christmas from then on was - remember when the turkey fell on the floor? The whole family remembers this Christmas as the funniest, best Christmas ever.
- Watch your diet; eating & drinking too much affects your mood. So ask yourself, why do we eat too much over the holidays? It is stress. Think about it. We bake, we cook, we eat. And much of the food we make are traditional cookies, pies and sugar, sugar sugar. Our justification is - well this only happens once a year so let's "scarf" it all down while it's here. You will feel better if you take smaller portions. It will be easier to keep the weight off and you will not stress after the holidays because you have put on 10 lbs. Small portions - don’t scarf - you can do it!
- You need your sleep. This is important all year round but over the holidays we tend to stay up late at parties you said yes too...You wrap presents when the kids are asleep, shop late on Black Friday to get the deals, and you may stay up late at night because that’s your quiet time to think. Just keep sleep a priority so you can function at your optimum during the day. It helps your workouts too.
- Ask for help. Especially if you will have a house full, ask your family to make part of the dinner, even if you don't like their cooking. Give them a recipe so you still have control of the meals. But ask for help with cooking, cleaning and picking up items you have forgotten. Family and friends should be part of making the holidays special.
Give to others. Another story…A certain family encouraged their children to put a little allowance away all year long for Christmas giving. Their Dad would match their savings and together they would buy Tree Angel gifts for other children.
Traditions like this are a great teaching tool and provides self esteem, especially for young children. And did you know giving to others lowers stress and anxiety? Giving may lower blood pressure and increase endorphins for many as well. Think about how you feel when someone opens your present and is so thankful. Those happy hormones come on strong.
Stop - breath - and remember the reason for the season. No matter what you believe or celebrate, connecting with those you love and those who surround and support you all year is reason for pause. What are you thankful for? What are the true gifts in your life? Why stress if the turkey falls on the floor? Make memories you will cherish forever. If you focus on these 10 things, your stress may just disappear.