The holidays are here, whether we are ready or not. It seems like the year just started, but it is almost over. The holidays, while they can be wonderful, are tremendously stressful. Don’t let them be – there are things that you can do to put the joy back in the holidays and keep your sanity.
NOTE: I also want to say at the outset that if you suffer from depression, please talk to someone – a friend, a family member, a coworker, or anyone that you trust.
- Eat healthy meals before going to parties.
- Moderate your caffeine and alcohol intake – too much of either will leave you feeling bad later, and also dehydrate you.
- Get enough sleep. Go to bed earlier than normal at least once a week.
- Evaluate any “obligations” that you are facing. Just because you have done something in the past doesn’t mean you have to continue.
- Family can be stressful. It is important to spend time with people that you ENJOY, family or not. Also, recognize that old patterns reappear under stress, so be aware of that in interactions with family.
- Say “No” – and mean it. Remember that NO can be a complete sentence – you don’t have to explain.
- Take short breaks to fit in a walk or other forms of exercise. Not only will it help with possible weight gain over the holiday, it is an excellent stress reliever.
- Watch how much you spend, to avoid making the start of the new year a more stressful one.
- Make sure your routine stays the same, or as close as possible. Keeping a regular routine makes rest/sleep easier, and also helps keep you in balance.
- If you have stress management techniques that you use in other circumstances, pull them out and use them. Find what works for you and stick with it!
- Prioritize. Look at your activities and do what is most important to you. Don’t worry if less important things don’t get done.
- Take a time out for yourself – away from noise, stimulation, and things that need to be done. They will still be there in five, ten, fifteen minutes.
- Relax and be present in the moment – not worrying about the future, not worrying about what happened in the past. Enjoy the family around you. Enjoy the smells of the holiday. Enjoy the sounds of the holiday.
- Simplify. Cut your to-do list in half. Send fewer cards. Exchange fewer gifts. Say NO to a few occasions.
- Stay flexible; things can change at the drop of a hat so be ready to change.
- If you have too much to do, delegate. Ask for help from those around you. You do the best you can; remember that.
- Don’t bake six types of cookies if two will do!
- Laugh. Hang on to your sense of humor and take care of it. Look for the funny in life – there is plenty of it out there. Find some funny websites and look at them first thing in the morning, or any time you need a giggle.
- Let go of the “ideal” Christmas and enjoy the one around you.
- Do non-materialistic things with friends and family.
- Be aware of your breaking point and step back before you reach it. Step away and take a break. Avoid those things that push you close to your breaking point, even if it is family. There is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Chose your battles; ask yourself, “Is this worth a fight?”
- Keep expectations realistic. Don’t look for a Brady Bunch Christmas if your family tends to be more boisterous.
If you get stressed, stop and ask yourself, “Is it worth this? Am I doing this to myself? Is there something that I can do to make this fun again?”