The holiday season is a time when family and friends should be able to come together, relax, and reflect on the year that has been. However, for millions around the world, the holidays can be a time of stress where a lack of preparation could soon derail the spirit of the season. Staying grounded during this time of year is important, and there are some simple and effective steps that anyone can follow to limit or completely eliminate holiday stress.
Head into the Holidays with the Right Mindset
Some people dread the holiday season and the stress that it can bring. Approaching the holidays with a negative mindset will take the fun and joy out of the holidays, and will lead to subconscious decision making and negative outcomes. Plan to enjoy the holidays and keep the bigger picture in mind. Having a positive attitude is sometimes seen as a cliché, but it’s actually a highly effective way to manage stress, and there’s scientific evidence to suggest that priming your brain for positive experiences will help you to get the most out of any situation.
Take Breaks Often and Maintain Focus
Although it seems like the holidays should be a time where you need to be constantly available for friends and family, it’s critically important to take time for yourself. Continuously exerting yourself for others will leave you feeling physically and emotionally drained. Take time to relax, and set time aside every week if you need to. Putting too much pressure on yourself to please others can lead to stress and feelings of resentment, and taking time for yourself will leave you in a better mood which will make every precious moment feel even more special.
Exercise During Down Time
Exercise is a great stress reliever at any time of the year, and is particularly important during the holidays. Try to use some of your downtime to take light to moderate exercise. Even if it’s something as simple as taking a brisk walk every other night, you will feel the benefits. Exercise releases endorphins, which naturally improves mood and can increase confidence and lead to better decision making. Exercise will also help you to stay in shape during a time where you will consume more calories than at any other point of the year.
Budget for the Holidays
Holiday spending is unavoidable. Whether it’s on gifts or a family holiday, you’re going to find the last month of the year to be one of the most expensive. Be prepared by budgeting for everything in advance. Plan your holiday food budget, gift shopping, and set aside money needed for a planned vacation. If possible, avoid using credit at this time of the year. Charging purchases to a credit card can seem like the best idea at the time, but the risk of falling into holiday debt could leave you in a difficult situation in the new year. Planning a budget will mean you’ll always know what you can and can’t afford, taking away the stress of rampant and unplanned spending.
Stay Cool During Difficult Interactions with Family or Friends
The holidays will come with the inevitability of spending extended periods of time with friends and family. Interpersonal communication can be like walking a tightrope at the best of times, and during the holidays and periods of stress, small differences can quickly lead to large conflicts and disagreements.
It’s important to set aside differences during the holidays and respect the fact that everyone has different personalities and expectations of the season. Removing yourself from disputes or even full blown arguments might go against your personality, but when you choose not to let differences dictate the mood of your holiday, you’ll have a better chance of enjoying a stress-free experience.