The holidays are here! And while they may bring tidings of comfort and joy, they can also bring a healthy helping of stress—especially this year. Who isn’t already on edge between travel restrictions, supply chain issues, vaccination wars, and a mix of political opinions? Add in a few difficult relatives and you’ve got the perfect storm of stress. While you can’t control any of these things, you can control your attitude, your actions, and your approach with these 6 tips to manage holiday stress.
Whether you love them or can’t wait for them to be over, the holidays come with an overwhelming list of demands and expectations, including shopping, parties, cooking, cleaning, entertaining, and baking, to name a few. The holidays can also be a reminder of loss and grief. But before they get the best of you, here are a few things you can do to minimize stress and find a bit of joy this holiday season.
6 Tips To Manage Holiday Stress
1. Manage expectations
Even though things are much better, they still aren’t exactly the way they used to be. Creating a new normal can be challenging, but it’s also a great time to start new traditions. And even though you might feel pressured to make up for what you missed last year, it’s important that you are realistic about what you can and cannot do. A bigger, better holiday does not necessarily mean spending more than you can afford or trying to make everything perfect. Be okay with your holiday plans looking a bit different this year and find new ways to celebrate.
2. Make a plan
I am guaranteed to feel less anxious and stressed when I have a plan. Making a list of what I need to do and when I’m going to do it takes the pressure off. Choosing menus, making shopping lists, managing activities, and prioritizing social events help keep me organized during the holidays. Planning ahead gives me more time to get it all done with a bit of wiggle room for anything that pops up at the last minute.
3. Do less
Just because you always do something doesn’t mean you have to do it this year. Don’t feel pressured to renew annual commitments that you don’t feel up to. It’s okay to say no to obligations that cause you stress and require too much of your time. That includes traveling, cooking, social gatherings, and whatever else you may not feel like doing. I’ve already decided to make all my pies with my fav store-bought pie crust because I don’t feel like making my own. And that’s okay.
4. Set boundaries
On a good day, your family will drive you crazy. But mixing the pandemic, varying opinions on vaccinations, and opposing political views with your usual family dysfunction is bound to cause some tension. Because you all have different views, it’s essential to set boundaries so that your family knows what expectations are in your home and when they are around you. This includes social distancing, mask-wearing, inviting other guests, and any topics of discussion that are off limits. It’s also important to communicate what you need from them, whether it’s helping with groceries, cooking a dish, or helping with clean up.
When dealing with family, it’s a good idea to be mindful of your emotional triggers so you know when it’s safe to engage in conversations, activities, and events and when you should step back or decline to participate. Protecting your mental health is what’s most important.
5. Acknowledge your feelings
If you’ve lost a loved one or other circumstances prevent you from being with friends and family, it’s normal to feel sad. Don’t force yourself to get into the holiday spirit if you don’t feel up to it. Reach out to a community group, a church, or a therapist for support if you feel lonely or isolated. And consider volunteering or doing something to help others to take your mind off what you are going through.
6. Save time for self-care
While you are busy giving to others throughout the holidays, make sure you take some time for yourself. Be sure to carve out some “me” time to do some of your favorite things that bring you joy. And when you are feeling stressed, take a few deep breaths and clear your mind to restore calm and improve your mood.
Stress is a normal part of life, but it doesn’t have to consume you this holiday season. Don’t be so busy trying to create joy for everyone else that you forget to save some for yourself. Practice these 6 tips to manage holiday stress, and with some planning and positive thinking, you can have a healthy, happy holiday!