It’s that time of year again! Soon our streets will be decorated with glimmering lights and our homes will fill with the aromas of sweet vanilla and warm cider. This time of year, you might feel overwhelmed with end-of-year work obligations, kids being out of school, growing to-do lists, meals to cook, visitors to entertain and a feeling like there’s just not enough time to get everything done. Whew! We feel you. Breathe in, breathe out and follow our 12 Days of Stress-Free Tips to stay mentally healthy and keep your immune system strong.
Day 1: Ask for help. We tend to take on too many tasks during the holidays. It’s okay to acknowledge your limitations and ask those around you for help. Most likely, your family and friends will be eager to assist, whether it’s gift-wrapping or preparing a side dish.
Day 2: Be realistic and reasonable. Burnt the turkey? Dropped a glass ornament? Forgot about a child’s holiday event? Don’t stress. Holidays are rarely perfect, and problems are inevitable and part of the memories you’re creating. Try to keep things in perspective and remember that nobody will remember small mess-ups, they’ll remember being together and having fun.
Day 3: Stick to your healthy habits. Make a pledge to have fun AND be healthy this holiday season. It’s doable and will prevent you from stressing about holiday weight gain!
- Eat a healthy snack before holiday parties to avoid eating too much of the, most likely unhealthy, party food.
- Try your hardest to get enough sleep. When you’re well rested, you will have more energy to go for a walk and more focus on knocking out your to-do list.
- Stick to your regular physical activity routine, even if it means breaking up your 30-minute walk into three different 10-minute walks with your family.
Day 4: Set a budget and stick to it. Nothing causes stress like money! Before you start shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend this year. Factor in travel expenses, holiday meals, gift-wrapping supplies, in addition to gifts.
Day 5: Allocate time for shopping and cooking. Avoid a frantic rush to the grocery store or mall, by planning ahead and setting aside a few hours for shopping and cooking. Invite your family or friends to join you and count your walk around the stores as part of your daily exercise.
Day 6: Practice using healthy coping skills. It’s easy to turn to alcohol or junk food to escape the stress of the holidays. Instead cope with stress in a productive way by going on a walk, reading, calling a friend or taking up a hobby like indoor ice skating!
Day 7: Try to balance work and family life. Balancing your work while still enjoying the holidays can be a struggle. We know that you might have a fixed schedule or be working multiple jobs and can’t afford to take time away. Instead, maybe invite your family to come to your workplace to share lunch with you. Or ask for time off after the holidays when things might be a little bit quieter.
Day 8: Learn to say no. Committing to too many things can leave you feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin. It’s okay to say no to some things. Your friends and family will understand if you can’t attend every holiday party or activity.
Day 9: Don’t fret about unmet goals, look forward to the future ones. As the New Year gets closer, we are reminded of those resolutions we abandoned halfway through the year. Maybe you didn’t organize your messy garage or get more exercise or save more money. It’s great to set goals, and if those goals are still important then regroup and focus on meeting those goals in the next year.
Day 10: Schedule some “me time.” A few minutes by yourself may seem like an impossible luxury, but waking up just 15 minutes earlier for deep breathing, journaling, stretching or just drinking a cup of coffee in silence could mean the difference between starting your day rushed and stressed, or calm and present. You may feel pressured to be everywhere at once during the holidays but remember you’re only one person and you don’t have to accomplish everything. The family will benefit when you’re feeling less stressed.
Day 11: Have a humorous outlook on the holiday madness. Parking lot jams, dealing with dysfunctional families, long lines at the mall, the list goes on. These are all just a part of the holiday frenzy. If you can laugh about the craziness, you’ll be less likely to stress about it.
Day 12: Think positive. Holidays are about spending time with loved ones (even if they do stress you out), having an optimistic outlook will help you focus on the present and avoid wandering into negative territory.
These 12 Days of Stress-Free living offer some ideas for navigating this often busy time of the year. However, there are many other ways to handle the stress and enjoy the season! We hope that you’re able to maintain your mental, and physical, health over the holidays, while also enjoying the company of family and friends. Best wishes for a peaceful and happy holiday season, and a happy New Year!