No matter what your traditions are and the rich offerings of joy during this season, comes the potential of added stress. According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, while the holidays are welcomed as a joyful time, a whopping 90% of Americans reported that they feel added stress during this time of the year.
The good news is that there are ways to manage the stress and maximize the cheer and memories!
1. Planning is key. Start by setting realistic boundaries with your time. Keep a list and rank projects and events by “must do,” “nice to do,” or “does not need to” be done. Don’t stress if you don’t get past what “must” be done.
2. Steer clear from “Too Much.” The temptation to overindulge in spending, rich desserts, or alcohol, can cause many people the lasting stress of dealing with consequences (debt, weight gain, memories of embarrassing behavior) that can linger long after the season is over.
3. Stick to a budget. Gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers, and others—along with decorations and more—adds up! Research shows the best way to manage holiday spending is by creating a budget and sticking to it.
4. Identify what brings joy to you during the holidays – and enjoy it!! Take time and identify what it is you love about the holidays. Then, plan time enjoying what you love. Make what you enjoy “a must”, regularly, even daily!
5. Making the Magic Happen. Decorating, cooking, wrapping…there’s a lot of to do’s in making the magic. Make it a goal not to let the “to do’s” eclipse the joy of “doing” or sharing the love of being with others. In other words, enjoy the moment!
6. Remind yourself (and loved ones) when needed: The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year or times before. Don’t be afraid to let things go and to shake things up this holiday season!
7. Dealing with challenges. The holidays can present sad, painful feelings from separation, end of a relationship, or other challenges such as health problems. Or there may be family dynamics or hurtful memories. And too, holiday gatherings may put you with some people you prefer to avoid. When faced with these challenges, the key is to be aware of how you feel:
- Consider letting go of old customs and making new memories, such as planning a trip away or reconfiguring aspects of how you celebrate
- When dealing with difficult people, it’s okay to set limits on what you are and are not willing to do, including forgoing visits or limiting time together
- If you’re experiencing loneliness, consider planning activities with trusted friends
- In some cases, it may be necessary to accept that some big, underlying issues may not be resolved at this time
- And, it’s okay to cry or take time to retreat and help renew
Power down – unplug.
Technology is stimulating and the advances have improved our lives for the better. But research shows that the perpetual beeps, dings, and screen time elevates stress hormones as well as sleep disturbances. And it can interfere with living life—connecting with others, enjoying the moment. Make efforts to turn off electronics for a time.
Enjoy Being Active.
Being physically active boosts endorphin production—molecules that elevate your mood, dissipate anxiety, improve sleep, and function as natural painkillers. Exercise is a great weapon against stress and the physical benefits of exercise to your heart, immune function, and other organs, are undeniable. Take extra steps (and walks in nature) this holiday!
During the holidays, you can become overwhelmed by increased obligations, more errands – and overall, more output. It’s important to eat healthy (including snacks), get good sleep, stay hydrated and take breaks.
Do Take Ten!!
Too often people feel the pressure to keep on pushing to do – but it’s so important, to take a break! Research shows that a 10-minute break does wonders to help refuel your brain, cut stress, reload mental resources, boost creativity, and rejuvenate you so that you can tackle more on your list. Regular, well-timed breaks can keep you sane throughout the busy days.
If you just can’t skip sending cards, baking, decorating until dawn, and doing all things that can run you ragged and you don’t find particularly enjoyable, you may do better including these activities but on a smaller scale or using shortcuts (premade cookie dough, anyone?).
Bill Keane crafted the beloved truth that is shared within many treasured sentiments, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, which is why we call it the present.” So from my home to yours…sending treasured sentiments – with bah-humbugs to stress! Enjoy your holidays. Savor your “presents.”