Disclaimer: While I wholeheartedly believe in the power of a self-care routine for mental health, this is not a solution for those suffering with suicidal tendencies. If you wish to end your life but are looking for answers before doing so, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (available 24/7) at 800-273-8255
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or at least it’s supposed to be.
While the holidays might seem stressful each year, there are several things you can do to relieve stress during this time.
As an adult, it seems like each year I notice stress start to creep in before the “warm and fuzzies” do.
I’m sure some day I’ll be more excited once I have small children to dazzle with holiday magic. Until then, focusing on keeping my mental health in check during this time is the name of the game.
So how can you keep your cool and truly enjoy your time with family and friends during the most commercialized and busy time of year? Hopefully something from these several suggestions will help you out this holiday season.
Just Because it’s on Sale, Doesn’t Mean You Have to Buy it
It seems like early November until mid-January, anything you could ever want is on sale. If you’re a bargain shopper like me, this can be a great time to purchase a few things that you’ve been needing.
I find this time of year helpful for that.
On the flip side, it can be too easy to get carried away since “it’s such a great deal”. Just remember, gifts don’t buy love and affection.
Not to mention, you may be filled with regret and possibly resentment by spending too much.
If you spend outside of your budget and put yourself in an undesirable financial position, the stress can seem disabling.
Just remember that those things will likely always be there and if it’s going to cause you stress, just don’t buy it.
Your family and friends will still love you if you don’t absolutely ‘wow’ them with your gift giving this year. We all have things in life that come up that take priority: weddings, babies, student loans, etc.
Please, please pleeease! Do not think that your value comes from the price tag of the gifts you give. Avoiding overspending will relieve stress like you wouldn’t believe!
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Don’t Give in to the Pressure of Going Over the Top if You’re Hosting a Gathering
Again, this year may be the exception depending on how these next few weeks go with the Pandemic and what your family is comfortable with. Regardless, setting some boundaries is key.
Doing so when hosting is a great way to ensure you can throw the amazing gathering you’re imagining. You don’t want to work yourself into an exhausted overdoing-it-on-the-rum-punch mess.
Make a plan well in advance that allows you the resources necessary to pull everything off with ease. This includes the necessary help and plenty of time to get things done.
We’re aiming to create the stress-free holiday preparation only seen in Nestle toll house cookie commercials! Just kidding – maybe it won’t quite be that perfect. Planning and giving yourself enough time to enjoy the preparation process is definitely possible though!
If You Don’t have the time to Decorate (or make your famous tray of 5 million assorted cookies) Don’t do it!
Just writing that headline made me feel a little bit like the scrooge 🙁 Decorating is by far one of my favorite things to do this time of year.
There have been years however, where I just won’t go out of my way to decorate. Sometimes I’m just too busy and you know what? I still have no problem getting into the holiday spirit.
Decorating is great if you have the time and the money for it, but if you don’t, don’t feel obligated to do it!
From my own experience, I know that not driving up my credit card bill just because it’s the holidays will bring me so much more joy and peace of mind than going over the top on decorations (or gifts).
Not to mention in a few weeks, all decorations will be packed up and forgotten for another year anyway. Just let it slip your mind, pour a glass of wine and cuddle on the couch with your favorite person.
Enjoy the holidays for what they are and don’t worry about what you “should” be doing.
Just last year, my fiancé and I didn’t decorate for Christmas. We didn’t even have a tree or ornaments yet.
We were so busy between Thanksgiving and Christmas that by the time we had a chance to catch our breath, it was just days before Christmas.
Also, my fiancé had just proposed a month prior and we were in “saving for the wedding” mode. We saved ourselves some stress by deciding not to decorate and it was fantastic!
On top of that, we bought our tree and a bunch of decorations a week or so after Christmas when everything was on sale! Total score!!
Again, don’t feel obligated to have the “Instagram perfect” holiday. Just keep it simple and enjoy being with the ones you love.
Contrary to what society may suggest, “doing your best” does not mean working yourself into a state of irritation an panic.
Your mental health and well-being are so much more valuable than “likes” on social media or the opinion of those who are shallow enough to have an opinion on your holiday decorating in the first place.
Seriously, I’m sure there are people out there that do have an opinion on this (insert eye-roll).
Take Some Time for Gratitude
Obviously, it’s always a good thing to take time to think about all the blessings in your life. Doing so during the holidays can be a great way to decompress and relieve stress.
Thinking about everything you’re grateful for will not only put you in the holiday spirit, but it will have you cruising through the chaos with a smile in your heart.
Here are a couple ideas if you’d like to practice gratitude during the holidays:
- Send a few greeting cards. If you have the time, making a few special cards for close loved ones is an inexpensive and personal way to show them how much you care about them. Tell them how much they mean to you and that you’re grateful to have them in your life.
- Write down all the wonderful things that have happened to you throughout the year. This is not only a great way to channel peace during the busiest time of the year but will also lead you into the New Year looking forward to what is to come.
Volunteering is a fantastic way to relieve stress during the holidays. Not only will you be spending your time helping those who are less fortunate instead of fighting over parking spots at the mall, but you will be making a significant impact in your community.
The true meaning of the holidays is embracing others with love and spreading joy and kindness. I like stuff and things as much as the next person, but there truly is something so irreplaceable about serving others who really need it.
Here are a few ideas of how you can give back holiday season:
- Volunteer at a food pantry/soup kitchen
- Get involved with toy drives for under privileged kids
- Organize a fund raiser and give the funds to a trusted organization
- Ask for cash donations instead of gifts and donate it to your local church, hospital or homeless shelter
Make Self-care More of a Priority Than Ever
I know I preach self-care a lot, but especially during busy times like this it’s so important to try to make it a priority to relieve stress.
Lipstick and a pretty dress won’t hold the pieces together, a healthy mind does.
Bake those 5 million cookies that everyone looks forward to, but make sure you don’t skip that special massage appointment you booked yourself a month ago.
Volunteer at the food bank after picking up groceries for your special dinner but if you have a free hour and can afford to, go get that holiday themed manicure you’ve always admired on other women.
If a massage and manicure aren’t in the budget this year, buy a $5 candle, some bubble bath and a bottle of wine.
Spend an hour or 2 in a soothing bath listening to some soothing music.
Guys, if none of my previous suggestions sounded appealing, try spending some time playing your favorite video game or start that hobby you’ve been thinking about starting. I’ve noticed that my fiancé will go running, play a couple different games or do stuff in the yard to relieve stress.
Maybe treat yourself to a new video game or that hat you’ve been wanting to buy.
Speaking of self-care, don’t completely ignore your exercise routine! Get outside for a brisk morning run or do an in-home workout. Keeping those endorphins flowing will relieve stress and keep you energized.
Practicing gratitude isn’t the only stress relieving practice that will put you in the holiday mood – self-care is definitely great for this too!
What suggestion did you find most helpful? I’d love to hear what you thought! Maybe you’d like to share what you do each holiday season that relieves stress for you? What special thing keeps you in the healthy and happy state you deserve to be in?
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