The holidays can be a joyful time, a chance to reconnect with friends and family, share delicious foods, and relax with some well-deserved time off. The holidays can also be a stressful time, with a dizzying number of demands – shopping, traveling, cleaning, cooking, and entertaining, just to name a few. You may not be able to completely avoid stressful situations during the holidays, but you can respond to them in a healthy way.
Accept imperfection. We often set the bar pretty high for ourselves as we prepare for the holidays, and then feel upset when things don’t live up to our expectations. Acknowledging things may not go exactly as planned can ease some of the pressure. Can good be good enough?
Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for holiday activities, like shopping, baking, and decorating. Plan out menus and make a shopping list to prevent last-minute trips to the store. Get help with meal prep and clean up.
Get moving. Sometimes one of the best ways to overcome a stressful moment is to move your body. Take a brisk walk around the block, dance to a couple of your favorite songs, or do some simple body weight exercises like jumping jacks. Anything that gets your heart pumping will work!
Learn to say no. Saying yes when you really want to say no can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Your friends and coworkers will understand if you can’t participate in every activity.
Breathe. This comes naturally, of course, but sometimes we forget to take deep breaths. If you can take ten minutes by yourself, try a breathing meditation. Even pausing what you’re doing to take a few deep breaths here and there can reduce your stress level.
Seek professional help if you need it. You may find yourself feeling sad, overwhelmed, and anxious even if you have tried to reduce your stress. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or mental health professional.
Written by Adriene Worthington M.Ed., RDN