The holiday season can be a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends and celebrate. While the holidays can be a joyous time the reality is that for many, holidays are stressful and can cause anxiety. Whether it’s because of finances, family dynamics or other worries, not everyone is excited about the holidays.
The expectations of seeing family, endless social events, gift shopping, and holiday preparation can become too much for even the most dedicated extroverts. All too often, anxiety and depression can become unwelcome holiday guests. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can reduce holiday stress and mindfully enjoy the holiday season.
One of the most common reasons that the holidays become stressful is the expectation placed on families who are sometimes overextended emotionally and financially. The added burden to provide big meals, provide gifts, pay for travel and overextend the budget feels like a heavy weight. Families begin to stress out just about the time they are putting away the Halloween decorations.
Despite Hallmark Channel’s fairy-tale insistence that families all love one another and that just being together is what really counts, many families are fractured, busy and unable or unwilling to live in harmony.
Have A Simple Christmas
There’s something to be said about having a simple Christmas. It’s very possible to have a holiday season without the stress and without going all out on decorations, events, and gifts. By scaling back and focusing on the more spiritual side of this holiday, you just might find more joy this season. And as an added bonus, when you keep things simple, you have a lot more time to enjoy everything this special time of the year has to offer.
For my older readers, do you remember what Christmas time was like when you were younger? Chances are you spent the month of December looking at Christmas lights, playing board games, baking cookies and singing Christmas carols. Gifts were probably less expensive but more meaningful and homemade.
So instead of buying more decorations, sort through what you have. Keep what you love and give away the rest. The house will be less cluttered and January clean up will be much easier.
Keep your calendar light too. You don’t have to go to every. single. event. Just pick a few activities and events that you know your family will enjoy. Spend the rest of the time with quiet activities at such as making cookies, crafting and watching holiday movies.
Limit Social Media
The amount of online drama and negativity has dramatically increased with no sign of slowing down. It seems to get worse every week! It can be incredibly draining. Too much time spent scrolling and absorbing other people’s outrage never helped anyone feel any better. Not only that, if the holidays are difficult for you it can increase feelings of despair and isolation. You might want to consider putting strict boundaries on your social media time.
Your time with God has to come first. Spend the first few quiet minutes of every day in quiet devotion and prayer to help center your thoughts. I like to pray the offices to spiritually check in as the day’s stresses begin to accumulate.
The sugar onslaught that begins around Halloween can result in decreased immunity, meaning it’s easier for you to catch everything that’s going around. As much as you can, make healthier and intentional food choices. If/when you choose to indulge, don’t turn it into a binge that lasts into January. Begin eating healthy again at the next meal. And be sure to stay hydrated.
Set aside some time for movement – whether it’s walking, gentle yoga or just getting outside for a bit, getting your blood circulating is enormously helpful. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. And it will help to keep the extra holiday weight away!
Set A Budget
Admittedly, retail therapy can be great fun but not so much when you have to face the New Year with more credit card debt than you can handle. You can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
Know Your Limits
As a chronic illness patient, I’ve had to come to accept that I can’t do everything that I used to. I don’t bake as much as I once did, try keep the decorations minimal and try to pick just a few holiday events to try to participate in. Set the priorities that work for you and your family and then stick to them.
For some of us, holidays can be really difficult. Not everyone has a supportive extended family close by. If you’re by yourself, look for ways to serve in the community. If you’ve sick, have experienced a recent loss or are experiencing ongoing financial struggles, you might want to step away from the holidays completely. Take a road trip, go to the beach or mountains. Detach in whatever ways make sense to you.
Practice Self Care
Self-care is a conscious choice that we have to make on a daily basis not only now, but throughout the year. Take some time and create a deliberate plan of self care for yourself to make it through the holiday season. Find my winter wellness tips here.
The key to having a stress-less holiday is all about preparation and setting boundaries. Holding to a plan that allows for the fun parts of the season without setting the family up for failure is the best way to ensure that everyone has the best time possible, even if times aren’t perfect.