Why is it that the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ is also often the most stressful?! Sure, there are really wonderful traditions - seeing family, holiday parties, gift giving, food, etc. But these can also turn into stressful situations. Add in the busyness, the crowded stores, the traffic, as well as the consumerism and it’s easy to see why so many of us get overwhelmed and end up being glad when the holiday season is over!
While there’s no magic pill or cure of holiday stress, there are a number of really helpful practices you can commit to that will help you feel more regulated and calm during the holidays. Consider these four practical ways to protect your peace during this holiday season:
1. Prioritize Self-Care
Make sure to take care of your physical and emotional well-being. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet, and engage in regular exercise. Set aside time for relaxation and stress-reduction activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga. Don't overcommit yourself. Learn to say no to some holiday obligations if they add too much stress to your plate.
2. Plan and Organize
Create a clear holiday plan and schedule to help manage your time effectively. This can reduce last-minute stress. Make lists to keep track of tasks, gifts, and events. Checking items off a list can provide a sense of accomplishment and reduce anxiety. Set a budget to avoid financial stress, and consider alternative gift-giving options like homemade gifts, or “Secret Santa” exchanges.
3. Seek Support and Connection
Share your feelings with friends and family. They may offer support and understanding. Consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counselor if your stress is overwhelming or related to deeper issues. Connect with support groups or community organizations that offer assistance during the holiday season.
4. Adjust Expectations
Accept that the holidays may not be perfect. It's okay to have some imperfections and to embrace a more relaxed attitude. Focus on what's most important to you during the holidays, such as spending quality time with loved ones, rather than striving for perfection in decorations or gifts. Learn to let go of traditions or obligations that no longer serve you or cause unnecessary stress.
It's okay to take a step back and prioritize your well-being during the holidays. It’s not selfish, it’s self care. If implementing all of these ideas seems overwhelming, that’s okay! It’s a lot. Pick one or two things you can try this year - and be committed to them! Happy holidays! I’m cheering for you!
~ Danielle Hughes, Guest Writer & Charlotte Therapist (https://www.cultivatecharlotte.com/)
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