Raise your hand if you’re excited about the holidays approaching. The family, the food, the friends, the good will towards men… I’d also ask you to raise the other hand if you’re stressed about it, but then most likely you’d have both hands in the air and not be able to scroll to read this post. The packing and traveling to get to the family, your tendency to always end up in the wrong grocery store line, the picking and choosing which friends you have time to see and someone inevitably feeling left out, and the Black Friday near tramplings at 3 am… So put your hands down and let’s talk about how to avoid holiday stress.
‘Tis the season for it. Everyone seems to be hustling, bustling, and trying to do everything at once making sure all is immaculate, impressive, and being handled like a boss. While the results of pulling off your holiday magnificence may be heart-stoppingly flawless, they literally can be heart-stopping. It’s true that some stress can be good; such as a little push to buckle down and wipe out your entire inbox before vacation, perhaps. Especially, if you know you’re the type to worry about work over turkey dinner, you may be better off stressing a tiny bit now so you don’t have to later. Pick your battles, but be mindful that stress is the most dangerous toxin in your life. Causing brain damage, shutting down the immune system, and being bad for your bones and muscles are just a few of its effects. Career stress or can kill you, too—that’s the heart-stopping part we mentioned above.
What can you do about it? How can you avoid stress that piles up like heaps of defensive players on a fumbled football? We suggest these six tips to help you get through the season less stressed.
Keep Up Your Healthy Habits
Elle Woods said it best in the Legally Blonde: “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.” We hope that in no way are you so stressed you’re even considering the latter half of that quote, so let’s focus on the former. Exercise gives you the gift of endorphins. When you exercise, stress is placed upon your body. Your brain does you a solid by producing these little neurotransmitters and the result is you feeling fantastic! Instant stress-reliever! So while you may be looking for things to cut out of your schedule to save time, don’t let exercise be one of them. And while you’re at it, make sure to eat healthy, too, and practice moderation with those cookies.
Learn to Say No
Saying “no” can be one of the hardest things to do, especially around this time of year. There are endless parties, invitations, requests, and with every one, you feel your heart clench just a bit more. You don’t want to offend The Smiths if they find out that you went to The Jacksons’ party instead. But you can’t attend their party because you’ll miss Sally’s dance recital and the office networking event you have scheduled later that night. And if you go to The Smith’s party, you’d have to bake three dozen cookies because there’s always a cookie swap there, and you won’t have time to drive across town to get the vegan ingredients you need because of Blake’s allergies. Good grief! There can be a lot involved with saying one “no,” but for the sake of your sanity you just have to do it. And the only way to learn to do something is by practicing it. Practice saying “no.” The more you do it, the less difficult it will be.
Ask for Help
Other than saying “no,” another hard thing for people to do is asking for help. When things began to pile up and feel overwhelming as they do during these months, your superhero cape may feel like it’s about to fly away and detach. Can you call your BFF to vent? She always listens to you. Or maybe a simple ranting session over wine and cheese with your neighbor will take the edge off. She can’t make it to The Smith’s party either. Is there a coworker with a lighter load who could help you complete those TPS Reports before Thanksgiving break? And if you need help from a professional, don’t be afraid to make that call. This season can be stressful and difficult for many people; you’re not the only one out there. No shame in that at all!
Schedule Some “Me” Time
Do you still have some PTO days left to use? November 30 is Stay at Home Because You’re Well Day and a great time to take advantage of it. Some of you may have a hard time calling off work even when you’re sick so it may seem outlandish to do it when you’re well. But that’s what this day is all about. Take the time you need to kick back, relax in your onesie pajamas, and binge watch that Netflix show guilt free. If you cannot possibly take a whole day to yourself, once the kids are in bed, run that bubble bath, light some candles, and relax to the sounds of Sinatra. No matter how long or what you do, take some time for yourself, breathe deeply, listen to your heart beat. Know you’re still alive, still going, and the holidays won’t last forever!
Watch Your Spending Habits
What can last forever, though? Those credit card bills. They can be the gift that keeps on giving. In fact, some of you out there may still be paying for last year’s gifts. Presents like that “must have” toy for your son that he forgot about by February or the pasta maker for your mother-in-law but now she only eats Paleo. Set a budget and stick to it. When you’re shopping, do your best to pay with cash or a debit card so when that credit card bill arrives your blood pressure doesn’t spike. Also, think outside the box. While you may not be able to get big ticket items for everyone, maybe you can afford smaller, more personable items such as something from Etsy. Handcrafted with care, love and reasonably priced.
Yes, we know what they say about the best laid plans. But it’s often better to have some sort of a guide than winging the holidays. So much can creep up and catch you by surprise. When it does, that’s usually when the beads of sweat appear as you suddenly remember that you double-booked an event, forgot someone’s Christmas birthday, didn’t make the reservation, etc. Before the holidays come rolling around, take some time to plan ahead. Somewhere upon the arrival of fall, set a date with yourself to organize and think through the next two months. There’s always the occasional surprise event, but for the most part, you won’t be caught off guard this time!
Good luck with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza, Festivus, New Year’s and whatever other holidays you celebrate. With these tips, we have faith that you’ll be able to make it through stress free!
Do you have any tips for minimizing holiday stress?Tweet