10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

Stressed woman in Santa HatFor some, the holiday season is all about joy, giving to others, family, and good food. For others, it can be a stressful, torturous venture into the depths of family dysfunction, overeating, and high credit card debt. With the pressures and expectations of home decorating, home cooking, and holiday parties (or lack thereof this year due to COVID and social distancing) coupled with ongoing online shopping or finding the perfect gift on a limited shopping outing while trying to stay safe and keep your face mask on in the stores for hours, tis the season for stress, emotional eating, and chronic fatigue. So it seems like 10 Tips for a Stress-Free holiday would certainly serve us well this time of year!
So with many people dreading the beginning of December, we offer the following 10 tips for a stress-free holiday to making this time of year as healthy and stress free as possible…

1. Sleep
As some of us begin to feel the pressure of the season on our shoulders, sleep deprivation may make the tiniest molehill look like a mountain.

A good night’s sleep (anything between 7 – 9 hours of deep sleep) has amazing restorative powers and will provide us with the resiliency we may need to see ourselves to 2021 (with our nerves intact). If getting to sleep is a challenge, try turning off the screen 30-45 minutes before bedtime and/or have a hot shower or bath to help relax and induce sleep.

Also, take advantage of less holiday parties and late nights drinking and possibly battling that dreaded hangover the next morning.  Because we’re all used to staying more isolated and not participating in large gatherings, it’s a great opportunity to bask in the glory of a slower pace and being able to stick to a better sleep routine this holiday season.

2. Eat a Vegetable
With all the home baked goodies at work and home, it may be challenging to remember to eat our veggies. Chronic ingestion of chocolate, cookies, and fruit cake may be lovely in the moment, but can lead to fatigue, gastrointestinal challenges, and even depression.Christmas Tree shaped foodIt may be necessary to plan a few meals during the day that include as many servings of veggies as possible or prepare a plate of veggies with dip to sit on the kitchen counter for munching (instead of the chips). By keeping up with our healthy eating regime, it will be easier to sustain our energy levels through the festive season.

3. Go For a Walk
When our social lives get busy one of the first things to go is exercise. Let’s face it, it is hard to keep to our workout commitment through the school pageants, house parties, and office events (and that’s okay). While it may do our bodies some good to take a break from our fitness schedule, we can still reap the rewards of physical activity by going for a walk.

Although walking may not share the same benefits as our CrossFit routine, it will increase oxygen uptake, elevate our heart rates, enhance our mood, decrease our stress, and get us out in the fresh air.

4. Just Say No
With the holiday season comes the pressure to entertain, be entertained, and give of our money and ourselves. For some, this comes naturally, but for others it leaves them feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and stressed out.

Establishing personal boundaries for ourselves is one of the best things we can do for our health during the holidays. Learning to say “no” more often will only leave us with more time to focus on what is most important. Begin by drafting up a list of the important events (a grocery list so to speak) and refer to it when other offers arise. It is much easier to stick to a plan if you have one.

Don’t feel bad turning down an invite to a gathering this holiday season, especially if you want to limit your exposure to others and their germs. If attending an event, be sure to practice safe social distancing guidelines and respect the level of protection others request while in their home, i.e., wearing a mask, using hand sanitizer, not sharing food or drinks, etc.

5. Avoid Setting the Standard of PerfectionBeautiful Cozy Home
Thanks to social media and all those home décor networks, we are exposed to more images of the “perfect” holiday season. Gone are the days of paper chain links on the tree and a simple string of lights on the house. It’s safe to say that holiday home decorating and party hosting is on steroids.Perfectionism has been correlated to stress, anger, and other mental health issues. We may work around the clock to prepare the perfect family dinner with all the trimmings, only to become frustrated and angry when we don’t attain it. If we expect perfection we will always be disappointed because perfect doesn’t exist.

Relax! Try remembering what is really most important during the holidays and forget trying to please everyone and trying to make everything perfect.  Ask for help and host a potluck instead of trying to accomplish everything on your own.  Sometimes, the most fun is had when it’s a spontaneous living room picnic with mismatched dishes, a funny conversation or game…keep it casual!

6. Set a Budget
Isn’t it always that when we go into the store to pick up one last gift, we leave with bags of presents? The sad irony is most gifts will be forgotten or set aside soon enough leaving us to wonder why we spent the money in the first place.To come out of the holiday season financially fit, it is important to take a realistic inventory of what we have to spend and set a budget for each person on our list. It isn’t worth binging on gifts if we are only going to suffer the credit card hangover in January.

7. Schedule Downtime
It doesn’t have to be December to have a schedule that leaves no time to enjoy our families and ourselves.  Although the holiday season offers many the opportunities to slow down, it also brings a number of social commitments that can leave us feeling drained.No matter what the personality type, we all need time to rest and recreate. By allowing some space between festivities we are more able to take a breath and get our groove back. Remember, it isn’t the quantity, but the quality of social experiences that leads to a sense of connection with others.

Woman reading a book on  couch8. It’s Okay to Avoid the Holidays
From holiday TV specials to the seasonal movies depicting tight knit families enjoying each other’s company, we are inundated with messages on how we should act and feel during the season. For many people the holiday season isn’t so much tied to love and harmony but to loss and loneliness.Feeling the pressure from outside factors to conform to the glad tidings of the season may only feed into existing depression or sadness. Accepting our feelings may be one of the ways we can break free of the holiday “shoulds” and allow ourselves this time to do what we need to do. There are times when seasonal celebration isn’t what we need…and that’s okay.

9. Remember Self-Care
For many of us during the holidays, we commit to a number of parties; only to deeply regret our decisions when the time comes to dress up and go. We quickly find ourselves suffering at the hand of loud and crowded parties dreaming of sweatpants, a good movie, and a big bowl of popcorn. Sound familiar?

The old adage of helping ourselves first before helping others applies to the holiday season as well. If our instinct is declining the party for the couch and a comforter, we may be in great need of some rest and relaxation. Once we care for ourselves we can more effectively care for our families (and enjoy every minute of it). We can help with self-care too, schedule an exam with us today!

bright heart10. Give (In Other Ways)
Although giving to others is a great way to enhance quality of life, our society focuses on the biggest and most expensive holiday gifts. Advertisements touting the perfect gift “for her” are now suggesting the new model SUV or diamond necklace. Who has that kind of money?The most meaningful gifts are the gifts of time and attention. Giving experiences may be more beneficial than giving things. Moreover, giving to those less fortunate is a great way of helping our neighbors while benefiting from health benefits that comes with giving. Remember, the spirit of giving isn’t about how much we spend but how much of ourselves we give to others.

Thank you to http://www.activefit.com for the amazing 10 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday!