The whirlwind of the holidays has begun!
Up goes the tree and stockings, up goes the tinsel and lights, on comes the oven - and out wafts the warm, sugary smells of Christmas! Yum..! Then, out comes the presents, and bright, happy smiles, and our hearts fill with love and joy! And, just like that, we’re whisked away, rising high on the magic of the holidays!
But then, wait … (insert suspenseful grinch-like music) … in comes the bank statement, down goes the balance, and (Surprise!) up goes our stress. Yes, the holidays can definitely feel like a whirlwind! Up, down, and round and round!
While this time of year can be merry and bright, it can also be an understandably stressful time – not only with the social pressure and economic strain of gift giving, but with crowds, time constraints, and family tensions. Not to mention, 1 in 5 of us also struggle with mental illness, grief, depression or anxiety, which can become worse during the holidays and winter months. Thus, it becomes increasingly important for us to manage stress and practice self-care during this time of year.
It seems like the perfect time for us to share some tips to help you to reduce holiday stress and keep yourself grounded!
Create and maintain your foundation for mental wellness by eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. These three things can have a significant impact on how you handle stress, as well as affect your overall mood.
Practice patience and forgiveness. You are not perfect, neither is anyone else, so be patient and forgiving of yourself and others. By controlling what you allow to upset you, you can regulate your emotions and reduce stress.
Manage your expectations. Not everyone is going to feel comfortable scouring the stores for the perfect gift or attending holiday festivities this year, so practice mindfulness and understanding towards others. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to your expectations.
Take a break from social media. Absorbing yourself in photos and posts of other peoples’ perfect moments can create unrealistic expectations and pressure. Remember, all is not always as it seems.
Create a budget. Take account of your finances, list your upcoming expenses, and create a realistic budget for the amount of money that you can afford to spend on food, gifts and other holiday related festivities. Once your budget is made, stick to it all costs!
Manage your time. The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be overwhelming, so schedule your events and tasks with a planner or app so that you do not overextend yourself. Prioritize events that you are excited about attending and decline other offers without guilt. Remember to leave ample time for rest and self-care.
Delegate. If you are hosting an event or gathering, do not feel like you must do everything yourself. Most people are happy to help! In fact, by asking a guest to pick up an item or complete a task to lighten your to do list, you are making them feel included and needed.
Avoid traffic and crowds. If you want to avoid the stress of congested traffic and crowded shops, try shopping online or at off-hours, like before work or in the evening. Many retailers and grocery stores are offering free curbside pick-up during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is not only safer, but also a convenient time-saver.
Think virtually. If traveling to attend a family gathering feels unsafe or overwhelming, then don’t. Instead, suggest that a virtual meeting place be set up for loved ones to join in, like Google Meet or Zoom. A virtual station (computer, tablet, or other internet device) can be set up at the gathering, overlooking the festivities and in a place where loved ones can sit and engage with those attending virtually.
Practice self-care. Take time to unwind and recharge. Whether engaging in an activity you enjoy, taking a walk, reading a book, taking a long soak in a bubble bath or something else, practicing self-care can keep you healthy, reduce stress and elevate your mood.
Practice generosity of spirit. If you feel your holiday spirit waning, take some time to volunteer and/or practice random acts of kindness. Not only can it reduce your stress, but it can also provide you with a sense of meaning and purpose which can ignite passion and increase happiness.
We hope that practicing these tips will help you to minimize stress and allow you to be present and peaceful throughout the holiday season.
This really can be "the most wonderful time of the year" and we wish that for you and your loved ones!
... And always remember that if you need us, we are only a phone call away!