It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but more often than not the holiday season feels incredibly stressful. We want to enjoy special moments with family and friends, but busyness overwhelms us and leaves us wishing the holidays would hurry up already so we can get back to normal.
It doesn’t have to be that way, though. This year, before the holidays hit in full force, try some of these wellness tips to de-stress the season. Who knows? You might actually find yourself filled with comfort and joy this time around.
1. Start a Secret Santa tradition.
One of the major stressors of December is the amount of money you end up spending on gifts for all your family members and friends. In order to avoid shopping ‘til you drop (and dreading your January credit card bills), try doing a Secret Santa with your family or friends. Have your group choose names from a hat and then only buy for one member of the group, with a reasonable spending limit. The adults in my family have been doing Secret Santa for the last several years, and it’s saved us a lot of time, money, and hassle.
2. Create online wish lists.
Another way to simplify gift giving is to create an online wish list and share it with the people you love. If you’re doing a Secret Santa, you can invite everyone in the group to create and share a wish list so you all have the option of easy online ordering. You’re not obligated to buy from the list, but it does offer peace of mind knowing the recipients will be getting something they actually want and will use. I have an Amazon wish list that I update year-round so when people ask me what I want, I can just refer them to the site.
3. Share the cooking.
In many families, one person cooks the holiday feast, start to finish, and is completely exhausted by the end. Don’t be a martyr. If you’re all adults, there’s no reason why you can’t all contribute to the festivities. This way, the host can relax a bit more and actually enjoy the celebration. In my family, the host (we rotate hosts for each holiday) cooks the main dish, and the guests bring side dishes, appetizers, desserts, beverages, etc. I find hosting much less stressful when I know others are sharing the load.
4. Minimize travel.
Let me preface this point by saying that in many cases, this is just not possible. If your family is far away, you need to get on a plane or take a long drive to get there. The key, though, is to attempt to not cram too many stops and locations into one day. If you’re spending Christmas eve at a family member’s house, for example, try to set aside Christmas morning to stay home and relax with your immediate family. This can be tricky if you have in-laws, but ask if you can visit with one side of the family on the actual holiday, and the other side on another day. Switch days the next year to be fair to each side.
5. Don’t overindulge.
Another major holiday stressor is going overboard on eating and, with all the preparations, not making time to exercise or get enough rest. That’s why the holidays are infamous for precipitating weight gain – just look how crowded gyms get in January. Eat, drink, and be merry this season, but not every single day. Think moderation. One way I’m battling the bulge this month is by making every Monday an Isagenix cleanse day. Isagenix is a nutritional cleanser that’s helping me stay healthy (and keep off the pounds!).
6. Treat yo’ self.
Getting a massage or facial is probably the last thing on your to-do list during the holidays, but it can actually be one of the best times to go. If you carve a little time out of your schedule to let a beauty and wellness professional take care of your body, the relaxation and rejuvenation you’ll come away with will make the effort more than worth your while. (Side note: Watching “Parks and Recreation” is a great way to de-stress through laughter – don’t miss the “Treat Yo’ Self” episode from season 4!)
7. Cultivate thankfulness.
The holidays can make us all a little nutty and cause us to lose sight of the fact that the things that are stressing us out are actually blessings. Is family driving you crazy? Flip the negative thought to a positive one by remembering that family is a gift… and not everyone has it. Worried about finding the right presents? Choose to be grateful that you have money to spend on others. Overwhelmed by commitments? Be thankful for a full life of family and friends that offers you so many things to do. Counting your blessings every day can help you change your attitude from negative to positive and decrease your holiday stress.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, low-stress holiday season!