No matter where you live, the holidays can be a super busy time, with piles of things to do, expectations to meet, places to go, people to shop for and more tasks to deal with. It’s no surprise, with all the added responsibilities that can come up this time of year, both social and work wise, that anyone’s stress level can rise quickly.
Career jobs, especially for managers, can be filled with extra demands on your time at year’s end, because of projects that must be done and deadlines that must be met. Extra social gatherings can test your endurance too. Many people find that traveling during the holidays can also be difficult because of delayed flights, or difficulty making connections.
Parenting can be particularly hard this time of year, as you frantically try to find the extra time to go shopping for the kids, get groceries for the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, and finalize plans to entertain the relatives who may be coming to town.
Here are 6 easy ways help to keep your stress level down during the holidays:
1- Get plenty of rest
One thing that will quickly put you in the danger zone of being overly stressed is the lack of sleep. Working extra hours won’t seem so hard if you compensate by getting enough rest. So, make sure to get your normal amount of rest every day no matter what. Try not to sacrifice your precious sleep time. Research shows that adequate rest can help curb inflammation, improve memory, increase creativity and stamina, lower stress, improve weight loss and lengthen your lifespan.
Make it a priority. If you are stressed out and sleep deprived, you will feel worse. Rest is vitally important to your overall health.
2- Make time to relax
Include relaxation time on your schedule, even if you have to put it on your calendar as an activity. Take an afternoon nap, run a hot bath, or visit the nearest health club spa or sauna. Sign up for a massage session, or look into starting a yoga class. Try meditation first thing in the morning. There are tons of ways to de-stress and many products that can help you relax.
3- Do what you enjoy
Here is a fundamental thing that some people forget when there are so many activities going on around you. Remember to do what you enjoy, no matter what that is. Pick an activity or hobby that makes you feel good. This can be anything. Playing the piano, sewing, reading, painting, taking pictures, woodworking or doing crafts or art projects are great ways to relieve excess stress. Find out what your go-to activity is that you enjoy doing more than anything. Do something that allows you to be creative and make sure it is something that takes your mind off everything else that causes you stress.
4- Reward yourself
When you are stressed, it can feel like you are giving every bit of energy you’ve got to everyone else. It can leave you feeling depleted and exhausted. Now is the perfect time to do a little self-love and find a way to reward yourself. If you have worked a few extra hours, or stayed up late making Christmas presents, remember to give yourself a reward for it. This doesn’t have to be anything big. Just do it because it is important to your own sense of accomplishment. You deserve a reward, so give yourself one. It will help you stay grounded, in spite of extra pressures.
5- Go outside
When things get rough at home or at work, and if you feel overloaded, it is a good idea to get away from it all. Change your environment, by going outside. Go for a walk, take a hike, or just sit on a bench at the park. Ride your bike, or jump in the car and drive somewhere. Take a little time to just experience the fresh air of nature, even during the cold weather. Being in nature is one of the easiest ways to let go of stress, boost your mood and increase your self esteem. It will refresh you both mentally and physically and help reduce some of your pent up nervous energy.
6- Connect with friends
Don’t isolate yourself during stressful days. You need the support of friends and family. You need to feel like someone cares about what you are going through. If you are struggling with the kids, call your mom to come over and visit. If you are slaving away at work, get together after work with a co-worker. If you just went through a breakup, get closer to your friends. These connections are important during the holidays and every other day of the year.
Keep it stress free
The upcoming holidays can bring extra joy into your life if you refuse to let anything stress you out. Get plenty of rest, make time to relax, do what you enjoy, reward yourself, go outside and connect with friends. Make this holiday season a good one. Make some special moments with your closest friends or family that you can cherish and remember for years to come. Don’t let stress increase your health risks. Do what you need to do to keep your holidays stress free.
By Karen Bresnahan
Cover photo: Kate Winslet and Jack Black in The Holiday, 2006 romantic comedy film, a Nancy Meyers movie.