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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
More healthy posts from the BLDG 25 blog!