10 tips for coping with Holiday stress

The most joyous time of the year is here and many of us can feel the excitement everywhere we go.  The store front displays beckon us to come in and admire their festive decor.  A perfectly adorned staircase in garland, the “faux presents” wrapped in the most beautiful paper imaginable and, of course, the aroma of spiced holiday candles, mulled wine and hot cocoa.  This is my heaven.  There is something very magical and cozy this time of year.  The days are shorter and the nights are colder which can catapult your holiday bliss if you made yourself some roasted chestnuts.  (yes, there’s a recipe in my blog)

Unfortunately, I know that isn’t always the case.  In fact, many people spend a lot of the holiday season completely stressed out.  The holidays are much better spent with loved ones, enjoying their company.  Added bonus, if you have money left in your bank account.  I used to let the holidays get me stressed out that I couldn’t enjoy it.  I have learned some tips along the way to help manage my stress.  I would love to share them with you, so you can have a blissful season, as well.

  1. Start early!  I mean with everything.  Decorating, shopping, getting recipes together, list of parties you’re going to, etc.  I always get our christmas tree and decorate our home the day after thanksgiving.  I know this may be too early for some people that wouldn’t dare speak of Christmas until December, but think about it…. Christmas is usually 4 weeks after turkey day and we put a lot of effort into decorating.  I wouldn’t want to put all that energy into transforming our home into a winter wonderland for only a couple of weeks a year.  Bonus, it gets you in the mindset of the holidays.

2.  Make a “to do” list!  This is my secret weapon.  Is there anything better than checking off tasks you accomplish–no matter how small.  I love a “to do” list.  It keeps you organized and focused so you don’t forget anything, or anyone for that matter.  Make a list of gifts you need to get, menus for dinners, list for the people you are buying for, food you need to get.  There is usually a lot happening this time of year and it’s easy to get off course and forget everything you need to do.

3.  Breathe!  Not to sound too basic.  But, if you are running around and feeling stressed out, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself.  Make sure you allow a few minutes throughout the day to stop and take a few deep breaths.  Take time for a spa-like bath, have a glass of wine , listen to your favorite music and chill out.  Focus on what really matters this time of year.  It’s easy in our culture to run ourselves sick.  One of my favorite features of my Apple iWatch is that it constantly reminds me to “breathe” every couple of hours.  Make sure you also become a priority this season.  You deserve it, don’t you?

4.  Exercise!  Womp, womp.  No one wants to hear this, but it can make all the difference if you want to strip off built up stress.  Plus, it will help with any added holiday weight gain.  It’s science!  If you are anything like me, I get stressed out because my exercise routine and nutrition can get of course.  This is the time to make moving your body a priority.  I’m not saying that you should sign up for cross-fit or a crazy and insane workout, because a brisk walk will do.  Cold outside?  Bundle up in your favorite cozy hat, mittens and scarf and let your body heat take care of the rest.  

5.  Manage your expectations!  You don’t need the biggest and fanciest home to have holiday gatherings.  You don’t need to have nice china for your guests.  You also don’t need to show appreciation for your loved ones with expensive gifts.  Don’t go broke by trying to look rich.  If you can’t afford much then make something, spend time with those you care about.  Make the holiday about spending time, not money with those we care about.

6.  Don’t overindulge!  Did you know most studies show that the average weight gain around the holidays can be 10-20 pounds?  That’s a lot.  Now, don’t get me wrong…. I will def be having some holiday treats, but I will do my best to eat healthy at these parties.  I will drink plenty of water and go for the veggies and lighter foods first.  I will add my treats in after I have filled up with the good stuff.  I do the same with alcohol.  Drink water in between drinks.  I try to avoid the next day chatter of…. “I ate too much” or “I drank way too much.”   Trust me, you will, too!

7.  Host your own holiday gathering!  Like I mentioned before, you don’t need a huge home to do so.  It’s a fun and cozy way to enjoy those closest to you.  Isn’t this what it’s all about?  Every year, we host a gingerbread house making party—for adults.  It’s a fun way to give guests an activity to avoid the awkwardness that can come from just standing around grasping for conversation.  Especially, if you have people over from various parts of your life.  

8.  Get more sleep!  Stress affects sleep.  Sleep affects mood.  Mood affects everyone around you and your inner peace.  Do I need to say more?  Make sure you have adequate “sleep hygiene”.  Lights down low early evening, turn down the sounds of TV or music, no electronic devices 2 hours before bed, no sleeping with the TV on, no social media before bed, etc.  Try natural remedies like melatonin an hour before bed.  Make sure you have clean and cozy sheets.  Is there anything better than getting into bed with clean sheets.  If you really want to elevate your nighttime routine–add a pillow spray.  I like a lavender spray I picked up here at amazon.  

9.  Keep conversations light!  When we are trying to actually enjoy our time with our friends, family and loved ones–keep conversations on a lighter note.  This is probably not the best time to be getting into heated discussions about politics, gossiping about others decisions with their life, how someone in your family is raising their children, talking poorly of other family members or friends.  This is a time to rejoice.  If I find myself in an uncomfortable discussion, I will either change the topic or excuse myself to grab a drink.  Try to be that bigger person to keep it fun.

10.  Gratitude!  What are the holidays anyway if you can’t find gratitude for the things you have and for the people that surround you.  It doesn’t matter how much you have–just be thankful for all of it and the universe will bring more of that your way.  Remember the real meaning of the holiday season.  Enjoy time for your faith, friends, family and loved ones.  

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