The joys of the holiday season are often overshadowed by stress. Things that wouldn’t bother you any other time of year seem to come together like a big extended family during the holidays. To reduce stress and help make the season bright, this year try these 10 ways to manage the madness and avoid holiday stress.
- Lower your expectations for yourself. Shopping, socializing, school pageants, driving hundreds of miles to grandma’s house…really? You cannot expect to do everything well during the holidays. Reduce stress by making a daily to-do list. Items not crossed off at the end of the day can wait until tomorrow, or maybe they’re just not that important!
- Include stress-fighting food in your holiday diet. Blueberries, oatmeal, asparagus, almonds, and beef are each packed with different vitamins and minerals that can help keep moods steady.
- Stick to a budget. Whether you’re grocery shopping for a big holiday dinner or choosing gifts for family and friends, decide how much you can spend, set specific limits and stick with the budget. This will reduce stress created by impulse buying during the holidays, and afterwards, when the credit card bills arrive.
- Control negative emotions with exercise. Physical activity can help you avoid holiday stress by revving up circulation and releasing mood-enhancing hormones. Try to fit in a half hour of aerobic activity four or five days a week. You’ll have more energy for tackling holiday tasks and may find you’re calmer overall.
- Take a long winter’s nap. Okay, who has time for a nap? You may want to make time. Studies have shown that even a 20-minute snooze can boost your ability to perform tasks and stay alert – two key benefits for anybody trying to avoid holiday stress.
- Don’t forget your vitamins. With a busy holiday schedule you may find yourself skipping meals or eating junk food. Supplementing your diet can help your body fight stress and fatigue. Vitamins B, C and E are just a few of the supplements that can reduce stress and help fortify your immune system.
- Open the curtains and let the sunshine in. Limited hours of light and grey skies during the winter months can make you feel tired, depressed and stressed. Try to get outdoors for at least 15 minutes a day and stay active to combat the effects of less light.
- Soak in a scented bath. Peppermint scented bath oil (perfect for the holidays) can help you feel invigorated and ready to face the day. The scent of lavender has anti-anxiety properties – combine that with some quiet time in the bath, and you should be able to unwind and reduce stress in both mind and body.
- Keep a holiday journal. Avoid holiday stress by writing down what is going on in your life. Just the simple act of externalizing your thoughts can help you gain perspective and make you feel better.
- Skip the small stuff. Not all holiday parties are created equal. So if you’re showing up out of a sense of obligation, ask yourself what would happen if you stayed home and rested. It may be better to “just say no” when you’re feeling wiped out and over-scheduled.
Last but not least, lose the guilt about the episodes that aren’t so merry and bright this holiday season. Relax and find the stress-reduction strategies that work for you. Although you may not avoid holiday stress completely, you should start to experience happy holiday moments more often.