8 Tips to Handle Holiday Stress 1

christmas stress, holiday stress, relaxation tips

Stressed Holiday Elf. Photo courtesy of Dylan Tweney

It’s that time of year; the holidays are in full swing. You have decorations to put up, present shopping to achieve, cookies to bake, Christmas parties to attend (or even host), relatives to visit…the list goes on! It’s no wonder that you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. However, with a few tips, you can start to manage your holiday stress.

1. Plan ahead. You have a lot to do. Writing or typing it all down will help to organize your thoughts. Plan individual days for all the things you need to do, such as one day for shopping, one day for baking, one day for gift wrapping. Remember to bring your list with you when you go out to help minimize the last-minute rush of things you forgot to buy or do! Or put the checklist on your smartphone with an app such as Remember the Milk or Astrid.

2. Ask for help. It’s okay if you can’t do it all yourself. In fact, I’d be extremely surprised if you could! Start to delegate tasks to your family members to lessen your load. Maybe little Jimmie can’t follow the cookie recipe very well, but he can help you decorate the cookies, and put them in tins. Ask someone else to pick up the dry cleaning for you this evening while you’re busy gift wrapping.

3. It’s okay to say “no”. You don’t have to attend every holiday function, or help every relative who needs their Christmas lights hung. You don’t have to do something you don’t want to, or that would cause you extra stress. Your friends and family will understand if you say “Sorry, I’m busy.”

4. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation really does a number on your mood; it can make you cranky and irritable, and send your stress levels through the roof. Make sure to take enough time for a restful sleep (most adults need 7-8, but you may need more!) so that you’ll wake up energized and ready to tackle your to-do list.

5. Exercise. In addition to all the regular health benefits we think of when we talk about exercise, it is an excellent way to decrease stress and improve your mood. Find an activity you enjoy, whether walking or yoga or basketball, and aim to do it 30 minutes a day, several days a week.

6. Take frequent breaks. Allow yourself some “me-time”. If you’ve been wrapping presents for an hour, go sit in a different room with a cup of tea, and chill for 10-15 minutes. If you’ve been on your feet shopping all day, take some time out to go sit on the display couches and rest. Sitting at your computer too long? Walk around and stretch for 5 minutes!

7. Breathe deeply. Sit comfortably,  remembering to relax your shoulders, arms, and legs. Inhale deeply through your nose while counting to five. Pause. Then exhale deeply through your nose while counting to five again. Repeat as often as necessary. Deep breathing reduces stress and anxiety, and releases endorphins!

8. Take care of yourself, too. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in all the things you need or want to do this season. You probably want to try making it perfect for everyone around you. But if your time and energy is a finite resource, make sure you give some to yourself first, before you run out. You deserve it! Whether it’s silencing your phone to sit in bed and read a book, or taking a warm bath while drinking a glass of wine, or scheduling a massage for yourself, just remember to take care of you.

We’d love to hear your input– do the holidays stress you out? How do you normally cope?

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