5 Tips for Managing Stress Around the Holidays

It is that time of year again – the most wonderful, most busy, and most stressful. But does it have to be that way?  Let’s look at some ways to manage and reduce stress so you can have a healthier, more enjoyable holiday season!

Cards, social gatherings, decorations, shopping, and pressure. Often people put unrealistic expectations on their holiday season, expecting perfection. It is important to understand that life doesn’t stop during that time of the year – children, jobs, parents, and self-care need attention too. It is a balancing act, but one that you can conquer!

  1. Limit social media. If scrolling is your jam, try limiting it during the holiday season. A lot of pressure we put on ourselves to produce perfect holiday gatherings is influenced by social media. Remember – you are only seeing one side of the story, and a lot of those curated Insta photos are not realistic. Kids cry, outfits don’t always match, and everything doesn’t have to follow a color theme. Reducing this external, unnecessary pressure can really reduce your self-induced stress.
  2. Acknowledge your feelings. Sometimes the holidays aren’t always happy – especially for those who have recently lost a loved one or went through a major life change, such as divorce. If that is the case for you, feel free to take a year off and go low-key. Don’t begrudge others their holiday happiness but consider it self-care to take some time out. Depression rates skyrocket around the holidays. Take some time to think about what is best for you and do just that. Feel free to say “no” to social pressure but do say “yes” to spending time with loved ones, whether at a pre-planned gathering or just for a cup of coffee.
  3. Set boundaries. Stop trying to do everything! It is not realistic to attend 3 Christmases in one day without having toddler meltdowns. It is not realistic to attend ten-holiday parties. Take time to enjoy your home, coziness, and family. That may mean declining some invitations, and that is ok. Pick the functions that are most important to you or your family and fight to maintain downtime in between gatherings.
  4. Maintain your healthy habits. Don’t forego your usual exercise regimen to do more holiday stuff. Drink your water, take your vitamins. It is normal to indulge in some extra holiday calories, but if you maintain exercise and other healthy habits, the damage should be minimal. Exercise wards off stress release feel-good endorphins, and is a great “thinking” time!
  5. Consider paring down gift-giving. Do your kids really need a ton of new toys? If your family is blessed with an abundance already, consider replacing some gifts with experiences, such as a class for a new hobby, a theme park, or a weekend away. It is also important to experience giving during the holiday season. Connecting with a less-fortunate family through a church or charitable organization and sharing your holiday is a wonderful way to practice gratitude and teach children compassion for others.

Take some time today to breathe and meditate on the upcoming season and write down what your ideal reduced-stress holiday looks and feels like. Next, have a conversation with your family about how to make that happen. It is a good bet that everyone will be more relaxed, more grateful, and experience the best holiday season yet!

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