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Managing Stress Around The Holidays Is Easy With These 5 Tips

The holiday season is meant to be full of cheer, but it inevitably brings all sorts of added stress. This stress can come from strained family relationships, work deadlines, or figuring out the perfect gift for everyone on your list. Regardless of where the stress comes from, it all goes into the same bucket — it all feels the same to us. This typically leaves us drained and ready to “start fresh” come January.

If we can learn some strategies to cope with stress better when it arises, maybe we can learn to limit its effect on our mood, and therefore our health, too. Here are 5 ways to manage stress around the holidays.

Manage expectations

Our stress buckets overflow during the holidays because we’ve created unrealistic expectations of what we can accomplish in this short time period. It feels like every year, we scramble to wrap up projects at work, buy dozens of gifts, attend all of the holiday functions, and make our homes look spectacular. If it doesn’t feel fun, then it’s likely causing stress.

Letting go of the expectation that we have to do every single thing can help instantly reduce the stress and anxiety we feel around the holiday season. 

Say “no” more often

The way to actually follow through with the previous tip is to learn how to say “no” more often.

The people pleaser in me struggles with this one, not just around the holiday season. But then I came to understand that when you say “yes” to something, you’re really saying “no” to something else. If you agree to take on something you don’t really want to do, this creates even more tension. Practice saying “no” to extra events, responsibilities, and outings so you can say “yes” to yourself and your needs.

Make a budget

Creating a budget (and sticking to it) can help reduce financial stress around the holiday season. That’s a ‘no-brainer.’ But what if you could apply a budget to your time as well as your finances?

This holiday season, take the time to create a budget with the time you’d like to devote to different activities (yourself, your family, work, etc). Use a calendar to schedule the time you want for yourself first, then see what time is left for extracurriculars. 

Minimize screen time

When you get stressed, what is the first thing you reach for? More and more people reach for their phones to distract themselves from the stressor in front of them.

Increased screen time can actually increase anxiety, because everyone’s life seems so perfect on the internet and you instinctively feel like you’re doing something wrong. Remember, Instagram is the highlight reel; everyone deals with stress to some degree or another. Instead of reaching for your phone to scroll mindlessly, try some mindfulness techniques, or try connecting with the people around you. 

Maintain healthy habits

The holiday season is notoriously the time of year that we throw away our fitness or nutrition habits and decide that we’ll start over in January. To put that into perspective, we take the last 2 months of the year and say “nevermind, we’ll start again in 60 days.”

In the same vein as ‘managing expectations,’ we should also focus on incorporating small daily habits that help us feel good without over-committing during a busy season. Taking the time for yourself can help reduce anxiety and burn out over the holidays, and allow you the chance to actually enjoy the season. Nourishing your body with healthy, whole, and unprocessed foods, and making sure you’re eating enough protein can help you from overeating sweets and treats at holiday parties. 

Wherever you’re spending the holidays, and whoever you’re spending them with, I hope you can use these tips to enjoy it. There are a little less than 40 days left in the year, and only a few of them are actual holidays. You don’t need to wait until January to prioritize your health and well-being. 

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