Decorations are going up. Well-known, beloved songs are starting to play on the radio. People are beginning to plan family get-togethers. The holidays are almost here! For many people, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. To other folks, however, it’s the most stressful one.
It’s true — the holidays are intended to be a season of celebration and relaxation. At the same time, though, they can seem hurried and filled with anxiety. If you’re feeling more uneasiness than festivity, stop and take a deep breath. It’s OK — there are several things you can do to reduce that frenzied feeling.
1. Keep Track of Your Kids
One of the best parts of the holidays can be the extra time you get with your kids. They’re on break from school, so you can enjoy all sorts of holiday outings. That includes handling your holiday shopping. Searching together for gifts for your loved ones can be a great bonding experience.
Keep in mind stores are super crowded this time of year. There’s always a chance your kid could get separated from you — one of a parent’s biggest nightmares. If they’re wearing a kids GPS watch that’s connected to your smartphone, though, finding them is simple. Knowing you can spot their whereabouts with a quick peek at an app will make you breathe easier.
2. Watch Your Spending
Let’s talk about those shopping excursions. Holiday sales are everywhere, and there are plenty of funky, cool gifts to select. A sweater here and a knick-knack there, and suddenly you’re staring at a credit card bill with a comma in it. Talk about feeling your blood pressure rise!
Sticking to a holiday budget can be tough, but it’s a good idea to keep your stress low. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to spending lots of money on presents. Consider a Secret Santa exchange where everyone in your family randomly selects one person for gift giving. Get creative and make some presents. Bake some cookies, decorate a picture frame, or create a digital photo album.
3. Plan Your Time
Keeping a tight schedule during the holidays doesn’t sound like fun. Fortunately, that’s not the recommendation here. You need some downtime to decompress and recharge your batteries, after all. Still, you don’t want the days to whiz by without getting anything done either. Waiting until the last minute to prep for family gatherings can leave you frazzled.
Instead, take some time to look at your calendar. If you’re planning a big dinner, figure out your best shopping day and make a list. Be sure you leave enough time for shipping if you’re buying gifts online, too. Having a plan and acting on it can help you avoid any last-minute scrambles.
4. Stick With Your Healthy Habits
Admittedly, this one can be difficult during the holidays when there aren’t a lot of diet-friendly foods on the table. Plus, you may want to maximize time with some family members you only see a few times a year. That can lead to several late nights. Getting derailed from a healthy routine, however, can kick your stress into high gear.
Overdoing it with sweets, alcohol, or fatty foods can raise your level of the stress hormone cortisol. So choose healthy options and maintain portion control. Even with all the festivities, try to get a regular amount of sleep. Take an after-dinner stroll to work in some exercise as well. If you keep up with your healthy habits, staying on course post-holidays will be easier.
5. Set Some Boundaries
There’s no shortage of events during the holidays. There’s a good chance several friends or family members will invite you to some type of celebration. A few may even unknowingly pressure you to attend. If you try to show up at everything, you’ll stretch yourself thin and become exhausted.
Just like during the rest of the year, it’s OK to set boundaries. Look at your schedule and determine what you can realistically do. If you know a particular family gathering will spiral into an unwanted political fight, skip it. Choose the get-togethers you know will bring you joy and leave the tense ones alone.
6. Limit Social Media
There are a couple of reasons to stay off social media during the holidays. Even if it’s your main source of information (remember: check your facts), keep it to a minimum for a while. Right now, focus your energy on spending time with the people you love. There will be a chance to catch up with the further-flung ones later.
Here’s the real kicker, though. Social media is a prime place to compare your holiday celebrations to everyone else’s. You may think the picture of your co-worker’s perfectly decorated house or dinner spread looks better than yours. Or the pile of presents your sister’s kids are unwrapping makes your kids’ Christmas Day pale in comparison. If you allow it to, social media can fill you with anxiety that you’re failing during the holidays.
It’s important to remember that everyone puts their best foot forward on social media. Nobody posts pictures of the messy kitchen or talks about the fight over dinner. In truth, no one has a perfect holiday, so don’t stress about that fantasy.
The holidays have the potential to be filled with lots of joy and excitement. But all the activity also comes with the chance of high stress. Keep these tips in mind to maximize your fun and keep your anxieties at bay.