The holiday season can bring out the worst in us. We have all these plans and expectations, but no holiday season can be perfect. And the fear of imperfection can cause stress levels to rise. The current state of the world isn’t helping either. To help, I am going to share a few ways I de-stress during the holiday season.
Please remember to take care of yourself and put yourself first. Stress can have adverse effects on your body. If you suffer from depression or anxiety (or both), stress can cause your physical and mental health to suffer drastically.
Here are my recommendations for ways to de-stress during the holidays. I know you have heard me say a few of these in the past, but sometimes we all need that nudge to remind ourselves of things.
I will say that I am guilty of not always following this tip. Most of us set impossible expectations for the holidays but get disappointed when it doesn’t live up to our expectations. Always remind yourself this holiday season that it is OK not to have the perfect. Perfection is a figment of our imaginations, and we will never reach it.
Accept that things aren’t going to fit perfectly. Sometimes good is good enough. And in case you forgot, perfection isn’t real.
Before you say anything, I know this sounds simple, but trust me, it is not. When I used to work as a barista in a popular grocery store here in Austin, we would deal with so many difficult people. As much as I wanted to tell them something, I had to remind myself that they are just letting their emotions get the best of them.
So when you face a difficult person, remind yourself that it could be the holiday frustrations kicking in or that the holidays could be hard for them for other reasons. Remember to be the bigger person, take a few deep breaths and be kind. Also, some react negatively during the holidays because they find themselves alone. Find ways to extend an act of kindness to any friends or family that will be by themselves.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself for not reaching your goals this year. Try not to let your inner-critic get the best of you and let that negativity go. This year was rough for most of us, so don’t dwell too much on the past and focus on the future.
Be Realistic With Resolutions
Usually, I start to get nervous around the holiday season because of how close it is to the New Year. With this year being a hot mess, many of us might think of everything we failed to accomplish thanks to Covid.
To de-stress during the holiday season, stop thinking about those failures, and create small, realistic resolutions. By creating more realistic goals, you can break them down to help you succeed. For example, instead of saying, “I will go to the gym every day next year,” you should say something like, “I will get more physical activity into my lifestyle.” You can schedule physical activity to your schedule and be more realistic about when you can get a workout in.
Get Some Sunlight
Before you come at me, I know this might be unrealistic for many. If you are lucky enough to live in a state where you will possibly get a few days of sun during the winter season, try to get some sunlight in your life.
Getting some sunlight can really help you de-stress during the holiday season. Sunlight can support the production of serotonin and help relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD). To help, try to spend time outside or at least sit by a window when the sun is out. And FYI, if you go outside, please put on sunblock.
Does your family like to argue during holiday dinner? Get away. Whether you find yourself taking a walk or hiding out in a room, getting away is entirely acceptable if you find yourself not being able to stand the tension. If you want to be polite, I recommend you excuse yourself first.
If you’re anything like me, you tend to go overboard with everything to please everyone. Don’t do that. Take care of yourself before taking care of others. And no, that isn’t selfish. Find ways to reduce holiday errands, whether it’s getting food catered, sending digital cards instead of physical ones, or ordering online for shopping. And don’t overbook your schedule. Your time is precious.
Are you already feeling overwhelmed or stressed? Don’t be afraid to slow down or say no. There is nothing wrong with you putting yourself first, saying no and appearances. canceling
Stick with your daily routine
Sticking with my daily routine during the holidays is hard and something that I am personally working on. By sticking to your daily routine, you will allow yourself to set the boundaries discussed in the last tip. Prioritizing your regular day-to-day schedule can help you from filling up your calendar with holiday stuff. You’ll also give yourself breaks to take care of yourself, whether it’s working out or going to your weekly book club Zoom call.
Stay Off the Phone
Harder said than done, but stay off your phone. Turn off Slack notifications, email alerts, and log out of social media accounts. Having work alerts causes stress because it forces you to go into fight-or-flight mode, causes exhaustion. Logging out of your social media accounts will also help you de-stress during the holiday season because you won’t be comparing your holidays with others. Remember that everyone shows their best versions of themselves on Instagram, and a lot of times, it isn’t real.
Don’t Force Yourself to Be Positive
I have had to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas on my own because of work responsibilities. I ordered food for myself for Thanksgiving and cried as I ate it. And for the Christmas I spent by myself, I cried as I ate pizza and watched Lifetime movies. I felt alone, and it was OK to feel that way while others celebrated.
In case you had someone close to you pass away or cannot be with your loved ones, it is acceptable to be disappointed and feel grief. Take time to address your feelings, express them, and just let yourself cry if needed. Don’t invalidate your feelings by forcing yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
Get Some Rest
Stress can cause our body to get exhausted. Muscles can become tense, our heart rates can increase, and our mental health can decline quickly. If you don’t take a breather, you will find yourself suffering from anxiety, burnout, depression, irritability, anger, or other medical problems. Please take some time to rest.
The next few weeks will be overwhelming. But following the tips I mentioned will drastically help you de-stress during the holiday season. So please, take care of yourself and remember to put yourself first.