Holiday Stress-Busting Tips

-Toni Sicola, Executive Editor, Health and Wellness Professional

We’re getting closer and closer to the holiday crunch! With only a few weeks left til Christmas and Kwanzaa, and even less time til Hanukka and Winter Solstice, whatever celebration you’re anticipating, the stress is probably starting to build … At least it is for me!

We just moved into a new house and are living among boxes and unfinished projects, and with holiday parties and travel plans occupying space on my google calendar, I’m not sure when I’ll find time to finish creating a livable space in our new home, much less shop for presents. It’s chaos I tell you!

**Deep Breath**

One thing I know is on my mind and the minds of my coworkers is the cold that seems to be going around our office. Some of us are fighting it, and some of us are trying desperately to avoid it.

Stress weakens our immune system, so finding ways to release it and create calm in the chaos is key to staying healthy this time of year and enjoying the celebration. (read more about stress and disease here)

Very appropriately, I’ve been seeing tons of posts about how to beat the stress of the holidays, whether you’re stressed about getting everything done, or stressed about encountering family drama during the festivities.  I’ve compiled my favorite tips here today:

  1.  Plan ahead. This goes for shopping, cooking/baking, decorating, and eating. If you know your social activities are filling up your calendar, set specific time aside for errands. Pack healthy snacks so you aren’t making crunch-time food decisions on the run. Gather your recipes and make lists so that you know exactly what has to be accomplished and by when. (read more here)
  2. Learn to say no. Know your limits. If saying yes could leave you feeling resentful or overwhelmed, consider presenting an alternative to friends and colleagues, or simply say no. If it’s not possible to say no to overtime at work, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time. (read more here)
  3. Remain committed to yourself. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Continue with your exercise routine and don’t let other things side-track you from the healthy habits you’ve developed. Studies show that exercise is a great stress-reduction technique all on its own, and skipping out could add guilt into the equation, which leads to stress every time. Try to get plenty of sleep to stave off the cold bugs too. (read more here)
  4. Delegate. While you might fancy yourself Superwoman or Superman, you don’t have to do it all by yourself. It’s ok to ask for help. Send your partner to the store, ask your kids to clean up or help decorate, or ask a friend or neighbor to watch the little ones while you run errands. One more time: It’s ok to ask for help. (read more here)
  5. Set a budget (and stick to it!)  We all know that the recession has created financial constraints that don’t disappear with the holidays. Try something new this year —  do a Secret Santa where everyone gives/gets one gift, rather than having to buy for the whole family. Find an easy craft project or recipe and make gifts this year. Better yet, agree that a nice dinner out together would be more fun than presents and skip it all together.
  6. Lower your expectations. Each year brings new challenges, and possibly new traditions as a result. Don’t put too much stock in any one aspect of the holiday. Avoiding high expectations leads to a more calm, balanced, and peaceful state. (read more here)
  7. Rethink Tradition. Consider the spirit of your traditions and why they’ve lasted as long as they have. Are they worth the time and energy it takes to uphold them? Determine if your traditions bring joy or burden to your life. If they bring burden, make an adjustment or an elimination. If they bring joy, then take advantage and celebrate! (read more here)
  8. Bookend your biggest event. Plan something for yourself in the days before and after the big event to help you clear your mind and relax. Possibly a a foot massage, possibly nothing but a book and a couch — whatever suits your fancy, as long as it’s all about you. (read more here)
  9. Perform a random act of kindness. Don’t let the hustle and bustle destroy the point of it all: GIVING. Let someone in front of you in line (or in your lane in the car). Give up your parking space and park farther away from the entrance (great to get extra walking in too!). Volunteer at a soup kitchen or to wrap gifts for underprivileged kids. Donate food or gifts to your local shelter. Start a conversation with a stranger. Doing something nice for someone else will surely lift your spirits.
  10. Believe. Believe in what is good and true. Believe in humankind and collective positivity. Believe in nature, beauty, music, laughter, and the greater good. Believe in yourself and your personal power. Whether or not you practice a religious faith these are all values we share. Believe in this moment, right now. It really is a gift. (read more here)

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