The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year. There’s a lot to celebrate in November and December, but for many people the stress starts in the lead-up to Thanksgiving and lasts until the new year. In fact, more than 60 percent of Americans report feeling stressed during the holidays. Travel, social obligations, and pressure to make everything just right can turn the holiday season from a dream come true into a nightmare. Slowing down can help you break that pattern of stressing. Setting aside a moment to relax, take a deep breath, and remind yourself what the holidays are all about (giving, family, and celebrating your beliefs) can help you reconnect with the joy of the season. Here are simple ways to connect to your holiday spirit no matter how busy the season gets.
For many people travel is a huge source of holiday stress. Whether you are traveling far or making a day trip, flying or driving, on your own or with kids, traveling can sometimes be downright miserable. But here are ways to chip away at the stress. First, leave early and give yourself plenty of time. There is bound to be extra traffic and longer lines this holiday season, and running late will just add to your stress levels. By giving yourself extra time to get to your destination you can let go of stress about delays. You can also build in breaks along the way for coffee or a quick stroll. This will leave you feeling more refreshed when you do reach your destination. Another great trick is to bring entertainment. Music has been shown to release feel-good hormones that will give your mood a boost. Audiobooks are a great option that can make your travel time fly.
Shopping is an integral part of the holidays for many people, but it can also be super stressful. One way to avoid stress is to shop early and avoid peak times, whether you’re shopping for Thanksgiving dinner or heading to the mall for presents. When you’re checking off your list of people to buy for, consider selecting a gift for a child or family in need. Many community centers, churches, and schools have so-called giving trees, where you can purchase for a specific child. Giving back this holiday season will leave you feeling great.
Parties are par for the course during the holiday season, but they can take a toll on you physically and emotionally. One way to keep up with all the socializing is to skip the sweet snacks (or eat them in moderation) and instead opt for protein and a vegetable. This will help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent the crash that can come after eating too many simple carbohydrates. Just because the holidays are supposed to be a fun time of year doesn’t mean that you can skimp on the self-care. In fact, it’s more important than ever. This holiday season remember that you are a human being—not a human doing—and take a moment to stop, relax, and breathe. Your holidays will be better for it!