If you’re paying any attention, you’ll notice quite a lot of cheer around holiday time – happy, catchy jingles; festive, yummy food; and stores promising only the best gifts for your loved ones. The holidays may be a time of fun and celebration, but they can bring a lot of extra stress. However, don’t stress about your stress – feeling this way is normal! Keep reading to learn about how you can combat holiday woes and enjoy this time as fully as you can.
From Thanksgiving on, it can seem like everything around us is about Christmas. We are bombarded with images on billboards, television, even ads on the radio about ways to make our holidays perfect. And the things we must perfect are endless: for example, the food, and not just the food — the presentation of our food, whether that presentation is festive enough, whether everyone has their favorite holiday dish or dessert, whether we’re being generous enough with our food, where we can donate food to the less fortunate, and on and on. It can be hard to feel like your plans are enough when you’re flipping through the channels and see Rachel Ray putting the final touches on a beautifully decorated Christmas gingerbread house. You realize your gingerbread doesn’t look like anything like that. The holidays are filled with these kinds of thoughts, you wonder if what you’ve done is enough, if you’re enough, and this negativity brings you harmful stress.
The holiday expectations we set for ourselves are often unattainable. It can help to set realistic goals so we don’t get caught up in what we haven’t accomplished. If you’re worried about spending too much money, make yourself a budget and stick to it, but add a little wiggle room built in. Make a plan, and don’t wait until the last minute to do everything on it. Buy a pocket planner if you need it, or keep an organized list on paper or your phone. If you’re worried about pleasing your relatives at that family holiday party this weekend, remember all you can do is your best. Don’t expect to please everyone, and don’t expect the holidays to be perfect—they’re not, because nothing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fabulous.
In particular, people face lots of stress around gift shopping, wondering, “What can I buy this person? What if it’s expensive? Can I afford it along with all my other gifts? What if it’s out of stock? What if they don’t like it?” Don’t worry! Do a little investigating to find out what your friends and family would enjoy. It’s okay to ask for suggestions or hints for the ultimate gift. Remember you’re probably harder on yourself than anyone else will be. And if you’re concerned about spending too much money, there are lots of low-cost DIY gift options out there and you can find the perfect one with a little research online. For example, you could knit a scarf, paint a mug, personalize a calendar, bake homemade cookies, make a succulent garden, and more.
The holidays bring a lot of delicious treats, but all the extra food can also bring extra weight. If the thought of gaining weight stresses you out, remember the holidays will be over soon and you’ll be back to your regular eating routine. In the meantime, you can try to fit in more exercise to compensate, and try to restrict your eating to meal times. If you need to snack, opt for fresh fruit rather than holiday cookies. But remember not to be too hard on yourself, and that it’s okay to enjoy the cookies! They’re only here once a year after all.
The most important thing you can do during the holidays is to take care of yourself. You can’t help make anyone else’s holiday great if you aren’t well rested and feeling strong and calm. Make sure to take time for yourself to do the things that relax you. Go to yoga, go for a walk, take a night in to read for fun. Do what you can to negate your stress, and remember that just because the holidays may be stressful doesn’t mean they can’t be fun!