As we head into the holiday season and all of the parties, family time, and treats that come with it, we must acknowledge that the holidays aren’t always sunshine and happiness for everyone. Sometimes the holidays can feel like everything is amplified, as we juggle gift-giving, celebrations, work responsibilities, and just overall magic-making.
We are the first to remind you that it’s okay to not be okay, but once you recognize that you’re feeling some holiday stress, then what? We’ve compiled a list of stress busters that can bring joy back into your holiday season. So take a deep breath (we’ll talk about that more in a moment) and let all of your Grinchy feelings slip away.
- Just say no. One of the most stressful aspects of the holiday season is that we feel pulled in several directions. We need to be at this party or shopping for that white elephant gift exchange or baking cookies for yet another event. Sometimes we need to protect our schedules to make room for hanging out on the couch watching Hallmark movies. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “Oh, that sounds fun, but I have other plans.” Even if those other plans are with your Netflix account.
- Get out (side). Breathing fresh air, getting a dose of vitamin D, and enjoying nature will instantly improve your mood. Whether your preferred outdoor activity is a walk, sledding, ice skating, or skiing, allowing yourself some time to move your body and enjoy nature will provide an instant mood lift. Even ten minutes of sunshine and fresh air can leave you feeling more optimistic and upbeat all day long.
- Get some one-on-one time. Frequently, the holidays can feel like a whirlwind, and we can find ourselves surrounded by people but feeling even more lonely. Try scheduling some one-on-one time with someone you care about to give yourself the chance to truly connect with them. You can even combine your visit with a walk outside and give yourself the gift of catching up with a friend while enjoying some sunshine.
- Truly enjoy something special. Sometimes we can feel so overwhelmed. It feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to take a walk, meet a friend, or enjoy a movie. On those days, just taking a moment to fully appreciate a simple pleasure can offer a break from the stress. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea and take the time to enjoy the aroma and fully appreciate the flavor. Or turn up your favorite song and sing your heart out. Fill the tub with your favorite bubbles and spend an hour soaking and reading. Even just remembering a cherished holiday memory can provide an instant boost of appreciation and stress relief.
- Breathe. Meditation and mindfulness are known to relieve stress but can feel especially hard when you’re short on time and heavy on tasks. However, you’re going to need to breathe no matter what, so employ a breathing exercise that will help you take a moment to refocus and let all of the stress fall away. A basic breathing technique is called “belly breathing.” Here’s how you do it:
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Put one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out without moving your chest.
- Breathe out through pursed lips. Feel the hand on your belly return to its starting point, and use it to push all of the air out.
- Repeat 5-10 times, slowly.
Sometimes all of that pressure to make the holidays full of joy and magic can leave you understanding why the Grinch locked himself in a cave with his dog. But you can have your candy canes and eat them too if you just take care of yourself along the way.