The holidays are nearly upon us! At the end of such a turbulent year, taking time to spend memorable moments with our family and friends is more important than ever. However, as critical as it is to share those special moments, the holiday season can also take its toll on your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Let’s face it: As wonderful as the holidays are, they can also be extraordinarily stressful. Buying and wrapping gifts, hitting everyone’s checklist, staying on top of work, corralling the kids or the family, planning parties and meals—it can start to add up.
If you’re already feeling the stress of the holidays, you’re not alone. But you don’t have to be a victim of the holiday blues!
Here are some strategies to improve your resilience and protect your physical and mental health during the holiday season.
1. Get regular sleep
In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s tempting to put off regular sleep-in favor of getting ahead on your planning. Do your best to resist that urge!
The human body requires at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night to function properly. If you’re going to have the stamina and the patience to deal with the highs and lows of the holidays, you’ll need your rest.
2. Eat consciously
Regardless of which holidays you’re looking forward to the most this year, there will likely be one constant: the food. End-of-the-year holidays around the world are marked by an abundance of delicious sweet and savory dishes…and it’s extremely tempting to overindulge.
While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your family’s home-cooked meals, you want to make sure you’re getting a healthy balance of nutrients, avoiding processed or sugar-filled sweets and not eating so much you feel sick!
To ensure you’re eating consciously, avoid hanging out by the buffet table. It can lead to lots of unconscious eating. Additionally, try not to snack while you’re cooking, or keep a healthy snack nearby to satisfy your urge to nibble.
3. Be careful about alcohol
Even if you’re not a regular drinker, the holiday season will offer up plenty of opportunities to have some alcohol. Company holiday parties, family dinners and celebrations with friends are just a handful of the events frequently catered with alcohol.
There’s no problem with having a drink or two. However, drinking too much can have bad effects on your immune system. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after your alcohol consumption. This can help stave off the ill effects of overconsumption.
4. Reserve some alone time
The holiday season is traditionally the time of year you’re expected to partake in events with others. However, that doesn’t mean you need to split all your time between social occasions, work and regular chores and errands.
Take some time for yourself during the holidays. If that means passing off a chore or two to your partner or skipping a social event here or there, do it! Taking the time to preserve your own mental health with a long bath, your favorite TV show or a quick manicure can do wonders when you are thrust back into the tumultuous holiday planning routine.
5. Connect with the people you love
To say that this year has been somewhat unpredictable is an understatement. In a holiday season where many people will spend time apart from their friends and families, reaching out and connecting with those who are special to you is more important than ever.
You might be astonished by how meaningful a brief phone or Zoom conversation can be for your family, especially if you won’t be seeing them over the holidays. If traveling isn’t possible, make sure you carve out time for personal connections.
6. Stick to your budget
Once December starts, it’s tempting to dive right into “buy mode.” The pressure to provide your loved ones with everything their hearts desire is enormous. Try not to give in to that pressure. Financial stress is one of the biggest problems people encounter this time of year, and it can lead to some troubling side effects.
Before the holiday season, set a budget. Then, stick to it. It might not seem like it, but a smaller pile of thoughtful gifts will ultimately mean more to your family and friends than a towering stack of “stuff.”
7. Watch for the signs of stress
It’s important to avoid getting swept up in a current of stress and anxiety this holiday season, or else you’ll set yourself up for a dreary start to your new year. Watch for the signs that you need some help or a little time off. Enduring fatigue, sour moods, compulsive habits like overeating and smoking are all indications it’s time to take a break and focus on you.
In the end, the holidays don’t have to be stressful or draining. All you need is to set a few intentions and focus on your health and happiness.