10 Ways to Escape Holiday Stress

The holidays can be an incredibly stressful time of year. From the crowds and shopping, to attending holiday parties, and traveling to spend time with family, there are many reasons we can get caught up in the chaos of the season.

In order to stay happy, healthy and cheerful this holiday, we have compiled a list of tips to alleviate stress and help you relax this season.

1. Set Boundaries

The holidays are a time to get gather with all of those who mean the most to you. It can be challenging to decide how to spend your time this season, but be cautious of how much you take on. Just as important as it may be to spend time with your family, it is also important to learn when to say “no”.

Setting boundaries around the holidays is a healthy way to avoid getting stressed out. Remember, this time of year is not just for giving to everyone, but you must give to yourself too. Don’t feel obligated to make everyone happy. Think about the bigger picture and set boundaries on which parties to attend, how often to travel, and how much to spend on gifts.

2. The Great Outdoors

It is well known that exercise produces endorphins, which are natural chemicals in your brain that make you fight against pain and produce a sense of ecstasy, decreasing your stress levels. This holiday season try to get outside by going for a hike or long run. Being outdoors in the sunlight will help relieve seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year.

3. Treat Yourself

The holiday season is about being thankful for all your blessings and giving back to those who are less fortunate. Although this is the core of the season, it is important to schedule some “me time” and give back to yourself as well. All year long at work, home, and beyond, we are people pleasers. Some ways to give back to yourself include: journaling, going for a walk, meditation and getting a massage.

4. Stick to Your Daily Routine

We all have our favorite holiday food traditions. Often, the holiday season is the only time of year when we get to taste them. From Thanksgiving to New Years, the media projects that people gain 5 or more pounds. In reality, people only gain around 1 pound due to holiday eating. Don’t jump for joy just yet…

A combination of indulging in your favorite foods along with the added stress of holiday buzz can actually cause you to gain weight and makes it harder to lose the weight you’ve gained. The truth is our bodies aren’t made to cope with prolonged amounts of stress.

In modern life, stress is a norm that we are forced to deal with day-in and day-out. This type of stress provokes feelings of hopelessness. Our bodies respond to this by suppressing the immune system and increases fat storage.

The best thing to do when it comes to avoiding weight gain during the holidays is be a conscious eater and stick to your daily routine. Continue to work out, eat nutritious meals and dodge excessive sugar intake. This way when attending a holiday function you can indulge a little without losing complete control.

5. Shop Online

With access to cyber Monday deals and online sales, shopping online allows you to avoid all the crowds, creating less stress while shopping for gifts.

According to research and consulting firm Conlumino, 67.4% of holiday shoppers plan to go online to shop, an increase of 14.9 percentage points from last year. In addition, by using all the holiday deals floating around the web, you are bound to save money from the comfort of your home. Just be sure to give yourself enough time for shipping!

6. Involve Friends and Family

Entertaining for a large group can take an army! If you are hosting a large group for the holidays, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The best leaders are those who can delegate tasks; and this goes beyond the workplace. If you are stressed and not enjoying yourself, then most likely your guests will see right through you, causing them to feel uncomfortable in what is supposed to be a joyous time.

Think of various jobs that you can engage your guests in. Even the simplest roles like setting the table, running for more ice, or dish duty will take the pressure off.

7. Recharge

When managing a home, working full time, holiday shopping and all of the prep that comes with this time of year, you may find yourself overworked and brunt out. Make sure you plan time for yourself each day or at the very least, each week. Plan a day just for you! Or once all of the family leaves, schedule a staycation at your favorite spa. You don’t want to start the New Year already looking for a vacation. Take advantage of the downtime that may present itself as a way to recharge your batteries.  

8. Be Present Over Giving Presents

We would buy our friends and family the world if we could, right? The holiday season has a lot of temptation to spend large amounts of money. Although this is a kind gesture, it often isn’t the smartest move for our wallets. To avoid financial stress, set a budget for yourself. Explore DIY projects like homemade confections, or knitting. The holiday season is less about gifting and more about spending time with those you love.

9. Remove Unrealistic Expectations

To all of you Type-A individuals, the holidays are not a time to focus on perfection. We are usually our biggest critics and this can cause us to beat ourselves up if something doesn’t go as planned.

Avoid cognitive distortion type of thinking. This thinking includes inaccurate thoughts that are used to reinforce negative opinions or emotions by telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only keep us feeling bad about ourselves. For example, you implant the thought that if you don’t get that gift for your son, then Christmas will be ruined. Or, if the meal isn’t cooked to perfection then everyone will have a bad time. These are all cognitive distortions.

Try to remind yourself of the true meaning of the season. Sometimes things happen out of our control, but go easy on yourself. Accept the situation, (take a deep breath), and move on.

10. Have Compassion

Hosting a large group for the holidays can bring together people from all walks of life. This can be a blessing and a curse. You may love gathering all of your friends and family together, but you can’t expect everyone to get along. Emotions can run high during the holidays, and with the elevated stress of planning and organizing, it is easy to easily get your feelings hurt. More than ever, you will reduce your stress levels by reinforcing a positive attitude. Don’t allow yourself to take things personal. Focus on doing everything out of kindness and not obligation.