The holidays are one of the most magical times of the year. It’s a time to reunite with family, reconnect with friends, and celebrate the joy that the holiday season represents. But with these highs can come overwhelming and exhausting lows. In today’s world, stress is an expected part of the holiday equation. But that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. Below, we’ve listed seven ways to prepare yourself for the holidays, reduce stress, and have an unforgettable time with your loved ones.
1. Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (But Maybe Don’t Drink)
Holidays equal holiday parties, which mean plenty of alcohol and lots of food. With the added stress of the winter season, burying yourself in a hole of champagne and cookies can seem like an excellent move. But to keep from having the hangover from hell, keep in mind how certain food and beverages affect your mood. Alcohol is a depressant and while it may take the edge of at first, alcohol has been shown to increase stress levels. As for holiday nibbles, sugary foods can lead to low-energy and decreased mood. Beware of skipping meals which can lead to overeating. But most importantly, be kind to yourself. The holidays are a time to celebrate — if you overeat a bit, that’s ok.
2. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year … Sort Of
While the holidays are supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, it’s normal to feel more like the Grinch than Bing Crosby. The changing of the seasons does not magically make our problems disappear — in fact, it can add to them. So keep your expectations for the holiday season realistic. Your holidays may not look like a Hallmark card but that’s ok. It’s the imperfect moments that end up making the holidays special.
3. Define what you want from this holiday season
Decide what you want out of this holiday season — and make that decision a reality. If you want to spend time with your loved ones, make sure to carve out time for them. If you want a peaceful week away from the stress of work, create space for yourself. Whatever you wish to receive from this holiday season is ok — but be prepared to say no to certain plans and do what’s right for you.
4. No One’s Superman
One reason that stress is so high during the holiday season is that people stretch themselves too thin. Prepping meals, attending parties, buying gifts, and traveling are piled on top of every day commitments like work, children, and other engagements. Respect your limits and know that you can’t do everything. Choose to do what is most important to you.
5. Rules are Made to be Broken
If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed every holiday season, it might be time to make a change. Scale back on your holiday traditions or try something new. If your family buys expensive gifts every year and you find yourself constantly trying to catch up come New Year, introduce a new tradition of making meaningful gifts. If you always host your entire family, suggest having it at a different household this year. We appreciate traditions for a reason — but there’s no reason you can’t create new ones.
6. Be Grateful
When it comes down to it, the holidays are about being grateful for what you have in your life. Instead of focusing on the negative — last minute shopping, expensive gifts, or hectic travel plans — focus on what good is in your life. Whether it be a new job, your best friend, family, or something as simple as a nice day, be grateful for what you have. Expressing gratitude to those in your life will make them feel joy but it has been shown to bring numerous healthy dividends positive effects for you as well.
7. Be Aware of PHB (Post Holiday Blues)
Even with the added stress, the holidays are an amazing time of year. And when they’re over and we return to our daily grind, it can leave us feeling down. Plan a day of rest after the holiday season and appreciate the time you had. After all, there’s always next year.