Written by Janelle Martel
The holidays can always be a stressful time, but with things looking so different this year, we can be even more prone to experiencing stress and overwhelm. To help keep the magic and joy of the season while also taking the time for calm and stillness, here are a few simple ways to reduce holiday stress.
Reframe Your Thoughts
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be easy for your thoughts to turn negative, which can then really impact your mood. Although it can seem almost impossible to change your thoughts, focusing on how you want your holiday season to go can really start to impact how you feel. Try choosing a word or phrase that reflects how you want your holiday season to feel, whether it is joyous or calm. Placing this word somewhere you can see, such as on your tree or on your bathroom mirror, can really help you begin to reflect on it and feel this way.
Nourish Your Body
While we’re all for indulging in some Milk N’ Cookies like St. Nick, in times of stress we can struggle with practicing healthy habits, which can make our bodies even more prone to the effects of stress. Taking the time to nourish your body with the food it needs can help increase your energy levels and help you feel your best, which can help reduce holiday stress. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, focusing on mini-meals with a good combination of carbs, protein, and healthy fats can make it easy to nourish your body. We suggest a quick smoothie, or nosh on a festive trail mix with some nuts, dark chocolate, and dried cranberries. If you’re having trouble prioritizing your wellness, these four apps can help to keep you healthy throughout the holiday season.
Focus on Experiences
During the holidays, we can get so wrapped up in finding the perfect gift that we forget to focus on the things that truly make this season special. Rather than looking at the material things, try to create memorable moments and experiences, such as baking your favorite holiday treat, having a cozy holiday movie night, or going for a Christmas light drive. If you do opt for gifts, try to slow down and focus on meaningful, personalized gifts to practice mindful gifting. You can even pre-arranged plans for gifting with your loved ones, such as sticking within a targeted price range, opting for secret Santa over exchanging a gift with anyone, or focusing on only handmade gifts or activities.
Enjoy Your Favorite Things About the Season
Rather than trying to do it all, take a little time to plan out what you want to prioritize for the season, and make a list of a few must-have moments to make your holiday feel special. Also, keep in mind that it doesn’t all have to be done before the 25th - you can extend the holiday season to enjoy what you want in your own time to help prevent you from feeling that pressure.
The holidays are truly about connecting with our loved ones, so make sure to make this a priority, whether it’s connecting with friends for a Zoom game night or meeting up with family for a virtual holiday movie night using Teleparty, Hulu Watch Party, or Amazon Watch Party. This is also a wonderful time to give back to others, whether it be baking cookies to share with a neighbor, sending holiday cards to those in senior homes, or practicing one (or more!) of these five warm and fuzzy ways to give back.
When we’re experiencing stress during the holidays, it can easy for our minds to wander and think about what’s to come rather than focusing on enjoying the moment we’re in. One of the easiest ways to practice mindfulness and staying present during the holiday season is to use your senses: think about how each bite of food feels in your mouth, how holiday music sounds, the smells of cooking and Christmas trees that surround you, and the coziness of a warm sweater against your skin. Allow yourself to experience each moment without judgment, and just observe it for what it is.
Say No & Make Time for You
We can have a tendency to overdo it during the holidays and focus on pleasing others rather than ourselves. Don’t forget to make yourself a priority and say no when you need to, so you can say yes to yourself. Think about what self-care methods feel restorative for you, whether it’s taking a warm bubble bath, getting in some exercise, or heading to bed early for extra rest. If you’re needing ideas, check out our 7 favorite ways to practice self-care and self-love every day.