Stress – Don’t Let It Own You During the Holiday Season

Man Holding Face in His Hands

With the holidays underway and the end of the year approaching, stress levels for most of us are rising. It’s practically unavoidable. As people try to manage their everyday lives into a new schedule that involves decorating, baking, shopping, family visits, travels, parties and get-togethers, something is going to slip. Often, it is our patience or our temper. For a season that is meant to be full of joy, it is full of a lot of stress.

What are some ways that you can help yourself avoid falling into the holiday stress trap?  Here are a few ideas.

Keep To Your Regular Routine:  The one recommendation that is universally accepted as crucial to making it through the holiday with less stress is to maintain (or improve) your daily routine. Getting regular exercise, plenty of sleep, eating well (not overindulging) and maintaining a proper work/life balance will help take away much of the pressure that the holidays bring.

Plan Ahead and Learn to Say No: One of the ways to have time for the things you do on a daily basis, is to plan ahead for how you want to celebrate the season. Find out what is going on with family, friends or colleagues. Most likely there will be overlap. You get to decide what you want to do and you can say no. You really can. Practice in the mirror, it gets easier, “Thank you, but no.” “Thank you, but I’m busy” “Thank you for thinking of me, but I can’t.” Give it a try.

Be Realistic: Bombardment from social media, television and publications gives us a very distorted view of how the holidays are spent. Can we really all make Christmas cookies that look like Martha Stewart’s? Probably not. Be assured that the “perfect” holiday celebration, get-together or loving family, just doesn’t exist. Everything is a constant. For every turkey gravy that comes out too lumpy, there is a special person whose life was joyfully changed just to be invited to the table, lumpy gravy and all. Keep in mind, that beauty (even in terms of a well-decorated Christmas tree) is in the eye of the beholder.

Put Your Needs First: We haven’t been taught to do this, so at first it’ is hard to do. But it makes a difference when trying to fend off stress at this time of year. Find the things that make you happy and place them at the top of the list. Most likely, your favorite things are also those that are most loved by family and friends that mean so much to you. So you will be able to enjoy them together.

Take a Break and Don’t Feel Guilty: Getting away from it all, even if it means just sitting on your couch and listening to music can be relaxing and healing, especially when things around you have reached a frantic level. Don’t feel bad that you want to check out for awhile or just need some quiet alone time. Reflection is an important part of the season, especially as we near year’s end. Be good to yourself, feed your heart and your soul, tis the season!