How to Stay Sane (& Healthy) During the Holidays

Twinkle light covered trees, festive music dancing through the air, the warm feeling of unity that this season holds… there is so much to love about this time of year, but the holidays can also usher in their fair share of challenges. It can be difficult for even the most festive person to keep their cool throughout a month filled with shopping, family and work obligations, and holiday traffic, and on top of killing any kind of enjoyment we might get out of the holidays, that extra stress can swiftly take a huge toll on our health and well-being. By the time January rolls around, I’m often left feeling emotionally burnt-out and exhausted. Feeling as though I’ve “made it out alive” is not the way I’d prefer to greet a new year.

So this year I’m doing things differently. I want to end 2014 on a good note, to be able to look back and not feel regretful for allowing my stress to take over during a time when I should have been celebrating. If you’re feeling the same, today I’m sharing my tips and tricks for maintaining your sanity — and health — during a month that tests both on a daily basis.
Holiday Stress 1

Change your approach: For a lot of people, one of the main factors of holiday stress stems from gift giving. There are a lot of people in our lives, and during a time so filled with love, it’s natural to want to give to everyone you know. This year, try taking a different approach. For my family, the holidays stopped being about big gifts a long time ago. We still give to one another, but the gifts are often either handmade, edible, or of the small, stocking stuffer variety. Another faction of my family does a holiday gift exchange, with each member drawing the name of another and only buying for their assigned person. It’s simple, and a fun way to change things up year to year. If you have a group of co-workers or peers to buy for, try making small gifts, or bringing something in that everyone can enjoy together, like tea or freshly-baked cookies. I’m not saying you need to stop shopping — I certainly haven’t — but the act of giving shouldn’t feel like a chore, and if it does, it may be time to change the way you approach the season. Often, it’s the small gestures that truly count and that will be remembered. A small, well-chosen, or thoughtfully made gift goes a long way. While you’re at it, consider joining up with a local non-profit or charity, a surefire way to bring joy and meaning back into your December is to give some of your time.

Holiday Stress 6

Don’t forget yourself: This month, time is at a premium and fear of missing out is on high. Between work parties, family get-togethers, holiday shopping and cocktail hours, it can be extremely difficult to allow yourself to relax. It’s tempting — and so easy — to put yourself and your routine on the back-burner in favor of doing all of the things, but you must find time to care for yourself. It may mean waking up a little earlier so you can drink your coffee as the sun rises, bringing your yoga mat and clothes to work with you so you can go straight to class, or taking an extra 15 minutes at night to write in a journal… even just deciding to be lazy on a Sunday afternoon and watching your favorite holiday movie. Don’t throw your health and wellbeing out the window. You may have to cross some things off your calendar, or rework your schedule, but at the end of the month, when the holidays have passed, you’ll feel better for having remembered your Self throughout this manic time and will be more apt to look back on the season with fondness. Plus, no one wants to spend their holiday break battling a cold.

Holiday Stress 5

Plan ahead: Holiday travel. The words alone can send chills down the spine of anyone who has ever had to book a flight, plan a road trip, or welcome frazzled out-of-town guests into their home during the holidays. The trick is planning ahead, and planning for something, inevitably, to go wrong. That might sound negative, but having a plan B never hurt. Figure out what you’ll do if there’s a snowstorm, flight delays, or traffic jams… get some extra rest and leave late at night, or fly out a day early… think ahead to what everyone else will most likely be doing and do exactly the opposite.

Holiday Stress 2

Enlist help: Baking five batches of cookies is way more fun if you’re baking with a friend. Wrapping gift-upon-gift is more enjoyable when you have a partner. Whatever you need to accomplish, try finding a collaborator. Blast vintage holiday music, put on a favorite old movie, make some hot cocoa… whatever you do, make it fun… it’s the difference between a chore and an experience.

Holiday Stress 4+How do you fight stress during this busy and bustling time of year? Please share your tips in the comments!

More healthy posts from the BLDG 25 blog!

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8 years ago

I think that planning ahead is one of the most important things, specially because everyday is going to be busy: you have to visit someone, your friends come over, have to go shopping…

Eating well can be also really helpful as well

xx Cecil //

8 years ago

I think this is an important post and I hope many of your readers take these suggestions into consideration this month. I have a similar approach to the holidays. Sharing good food with the ones I love is what brings me the most joy this season. Being festive doens’t have to sacrifice simplicity and peace of mind.

8 years ago

Love these! Especially enlisting help, planning ahead, and not forgetting yourself. This year I have been totally vegging out at night with books or shows — like EVERY night, something I don’t let myself get away with during the rest of the year. It may feel like a guilty pleasure, but it’s allowing my body to store up strength and energy for the go-time right around the corner when every moment is going to be full of activities. And while I used to like checking items off my list alone, I’ve definitely discovered how much easier this time of year can be with the right buddy to help you through it. In addition to these things, I’m making sure that I drink tons of water, keep snacks on hand at all times so I don’t have any blood sugar crashes while stuck in a line somewhere, give myself lots of days 100% free of any coffee or alcohol that might dehydrate, and take my supplements daily. This is always when I get sick and I’m determined to keep it at bay this year!

8 years ago

I love a quick Yoga session to center myself especially when things get busy. And also remembering whats important and what I can let go of. Another huge factor is to not have picture-perfect expectations but deciding to just go with the flow :)