I waited until December 1st to write this post. Because, you know, there’s a big debate over when holiday music should start playing on the radios, when streets should be lit up with twinkly lights, etc.
And I’ll just be honest with you right off the bat. When it comes to this debate, I’m on the side that believes the day after Thanksgiving is the acceptable time to start celebrating. Usually, the weekend after Thanksgiving is when the tree goes up at my house and we put holiday music on.
As I write this, Bing Crosby’s words are ringing out in the background, I’ll be home for Christmas… You can count on me…
But being home for Christmas (or for whatever you personally celebrate this time of year) isn’t always as peaceful and magical as all the songs might make it out to be. For a lot of people, the holiday season is full of the not-so-magical things like hectic schedules, overwhelming social situations, a race to get last minute presents bought and wrapped, and stress over travel plans.
If this sounds like your experience with the holidays, let’s think about not just getting home for the holidays, but getting there happy, balanced, and calm.
Try out these tips for holiday stress relief to turn I’ll be home for Christmas into I’ll be calm for Christmas.
7 Tips for staying grounded during the holidays:
1. Don’t say yes to everything
It’s a busy enough time of year. Don’t fall into the trap of saying yes to more holiday than you can handle. You don’t need to take on all the commitments available or asked of you. Choose what’s most important, for yourself and for your loved ones, and then let it be ok to turn the rest down. Let it be ok to say to your friend from out of town, “I’m sorry I can’t meet you for coffee while you are in town this time. My schedule is already too full with other commitments.” Exercise your “No” muscle. It’s ok. People will understand. Honoring yourself and not overbooking yourself will set you off on the right foot. It will allow you to go to the events that you choose to with your best self and your best energy.
2. Build in time for your usual routines
During this hectic time of year, we often let our regular routines slip to the side. We forget to prioritize things like taking our morning walk, eating foods that nourish us, going to yoga class, or having a few minutes alone before bed to read a book. And this is understandable. The holidays are busy and there is a lot to get done on top of your normal life, whether its traveling, shopping, cooking, or getting yourself to various holiday parties. But you’ll feel a lot more grounded if you maintain some state of normal by remembering your routines. It’s ok if you can’t do everything, but make it a point to save time for the things that you know make you feel good – especially those routines surrounding exercise, eating well, releasing stress, and sleeping.
3. Don’t do everything yourself
Ask for support and share tasks to get everything done. You don’t have to take it all on yourself. Whether you are feeling overwhelmed with gift shopping, meal prep, packing for time away, or just keeping the pantry stocked with snacks for the family, chances are, there are people in your life who would love to help. Ask your partner, kids, parents, friends, or coworkers for support.
4. Take calm breaks (aka alone time)
Part of holiday stress can often be that you are constantly on the go, constantly with people, and constantly giving a lot of energy out to those around you. It’s important to recognize when you need to recharge and refuel, so that you can get back to the holiday fun with your best foot forward. Check in with yourself, and make sure you build in “calm breaks” when you need them. Whether it’s stepping outside at an event for a few minutes of fresh air by yourself, making sure to head to your bedroom for 10 pages of reading alone, or making sure you have a few minutes of peace to drink your coffee every morning, find ways for some restful solitude.
5. Don’t forget to move your body
Getting physically active during these times can kill so many birds with one stone. Movement is a natural stress reliever, helping both your brain and your body to calm down. It’ll help keep your energy up, reduce negative experiences like anger, frustration, worry, etc… and it will help keep you in a regular routine (see #2 above)
6. Be Mindful
When time seems like it is slipping by in a crazy whirlwind (which is all too common during the holiday season), what can you do to slow down? Mindfulness (paying attention on purpose to what you are experiencing in the present moment without judgment) is a great way to “slow down time” so that you can actually enjoy this special time of year. When we are able to really experience and savor each moment, the less we feel that life is happening around us, and the more we feel that we are connected and present in our lives. Each day, take just a few minutes to simply stop, breathe, and just be in that moment. No need to try to change things or to analyze them – just let things in that moment be just as they are.
7. Practice gratitude
Gratitude is important all year long, but it’s especially at the forefront during the holiday season. Intentionally practicing gratitude daily can do wonders for finding a sense of peace and calm, even in the midst of running endless errands and making endless plans. Take time each day to think about the little things, and the big things (and sure, even the medium things) that you are thankful for in your life. Give yourself just a few minutes to write these down – the practice will leave you feeling happier, calmer, and more positive as you head into the holidays.
Don’t let the holidays turn you into an overwhelmed ball of stress. Practice these tips, try to stay balanced, and remember to take care of yourself.
Here’s to a holiday full of love, joy, peace, and calm.