Tips for tackling holiday stress
If the holidays tend to leave you feeling stretched too thin, try to implement some strategies for reducing your holiday stress.
You can find abundant advice about how to deal with holiday stress online. The American Heart Association, Johns Hopkins Medical, and Psychology Today are just a few of the trusted resources to turn to when you need ideas for how to handle seasonal stress.
For a quick recap of their top stress tips, and a little additional perspective from our team, read on.
The 6 most common tips for managing holiday stress:
Maintain your healthy habits:
Avoid that feeling that you’ve “fallen behind” by keeping your lifestyle goals a priority in your day-to-day, from sleep maintenance to nutrition choices.
Enjoy seasonal treats in moderation:
Indulge in small portions of your seasonal favorites, and limit consumption of pleasure foods to avoid the sluggish feelings and brain fog that can accompany over-indulgence.
Balance your activity levels:
While you shouldn’t stress over missing a beat in your workout routine, it can be helpful to work healthy activities like walking into your daily grind.
Set realistic resolutions:
Too much too soon often leads to burnout. If you want to set goals for the new year, break them into gradual, attainable steps, and make them enjoyable.
Whether it means making time for a nap, or carving out space in your to-do list for things that are important to you, it’s important that celebrating the holidays doesn’t mean neglecting yourself.
Reset your perspective:
From practicing gratitude and generosity to reframing difficult circumstances with a positive outlook, a mindfulness approach can go a long way to reducing the mental and emotional load of the holiday season.
Additional advice on holiday stress
These are the primary tips you’ll find online for how to relieve the stresses of the holiday season, and they have our full endorsement. But we’ve also got some less traditional tips to share, as well.
Spend time in the sun, even if it’s cold out
Sunlight, fresh air, and time spent in nature are proven mood-boosters and stress-relievers. Spending time outside offers many benefits that can counteract stress:
- Vitamin D
- A change of scenery
- The opportunity to slow down
- Quiet and solitude
It’s natural to spend more time inside during the holidays — you’re with family and friends, the weather is inclement, and the to-do list feels endless. But making some time to be outdoors, even for just a few moments, can make a big difference.
Practice saying no
Bigger isn’t always better, and the holidays aren’t a competition. Do what you enjoy. Do what you’re able. But don’t try to do it all. Remember that you have a choice, and reduce your holiday stress by avoiding some of these common pressures:
- Feeling responsible for or worrying about others’ emotions and expectations
- Spending more than you can reasonably afford on gifting and events
- Saying yes to every social engagement or otherwise signing up for overwhelming responsibilities
- Making big resolutions from a place of guilt or shame
In other words, set and protect your boundaries. The expectation to take on more, do more, give more, and be more this time of year is what stuff holiday stress is made of, and the societal pressure to give in is huge. Deciding on and keeping healthy mental, emotional, financial, and physical boundaries can go a long way to protecting your peace of mind this holiday season.
Take stress in stride
The truth is, even with healthy practices and good boundaries in place, the holidays can still bring immense pressure! The best way to manage holiday stress is the same as the best way to manage everyday stress: be proactive and flexible.
Psychological flexibility is your ability to “roll with the punches” — to adapt to dynamic situational demands, direct your mental resources, and focus your attention and energy in a way that makes the most of your circumstances while honoring your core values and goals.
Proactive stress management is your commitment to your daily physical, mental, and emotional well-being. This includes the three gold standards of health: nutrition, sleep, and physical activity.
You can also protect and reinforce your body’s stress response with stress support supplements, which help to target GABA and serotonin activity in the brain. Five over-the-counter supplements we often suggest trying to include:
We hope these tips help you make the most of the season, and we wish you happy holidays and a joyful New Year.