5 Ways to Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

5 Ways to Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

Thanksgiving is here, and the holidays are in full swing. For many of us, the joy of the holidays is often overshadowed by overcommitment, exhaustion, and stress. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are five ways to reduce your stress and make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress Over the Holidays

Stress is an inevitable part of the holidays for many people. But there are ways you can reduce that stress and take care of yourself. 

1. Plan Ahead

It’s never too early to start planning. Be realistic about your availability and time. If you are attending multiple events over the holidays, plan ahead to ensure you have plenty of time between each event.

Few things are more stressful than being on a tight schedule during what should be a relaxing family gathering. Look at your calendar. Deconflict events that overlap. Choose only to attend gatherings that will be fun, and perhaps reconsider attending those events that will cause greater stress.

2. Maintain Healthy Habits

The best way to reduce holiday stress is to stick to your health and fitness routine as much as possible. A healthy diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep are all crucial to keeping stress at a minimum.

It’s not always possible to stay in your routine, especially if you’re traveling or hosting others. But be mindful of ways you can continue to eat nutritious food, get in some physical activity, and get a good night’s rest. 

3. Learn to Say No

Some of us (*raises hand*) are people pleasers. For us, the holidays often mean trying to be everything to everyone; attempting to make every gathering, cooking food for every community event, and driving ourselves mad in the process.

This holiday season, give yourself the gift of saying “no.”

You may be invited to dozens of events during the holiday season. But attending every single one will wear you down faster than a crayon in a Kindergarten class.

Instead, prioritize your upcoming events. Who do you really want to see? Which gatherings will make you happiest? And which gatherings might be wrought with conflict and chaos?

It’s okay to say no, especially if it means protecting your health and your sanity. 

4. Avoid Controversial Topics

The holidays often mean an intersection of differing ideas, opinions, and viewpoints. Those differences can produce uncomfortable and downright disastrous outcomes in this increasingly divided world.

Do your best to avoid controversial topics, especially with someone you know is firmly on the other side of a particular issue. You’re unlikely to change their mind, and you will almost certainly feel anxious, stressed, and angry after the confrontation.

It’s not always easy to keep our mouths shut. And indeed, there are some cases where you need to speak up and call out hatred, bigotry, and injustice. But choose those moments wisely. 

5. Take a Breather

Sometimes, the only way to avoid stress is to – well, avoid. If you feel yourself becoming irritable, anxious, angry, or otherwise unsettled, it’s perfectly okay to remove yourself from the situation.

It’s not always possible to leave the gathering altogether (especially if you’re hosting!), but if you need a breather, take one. 

Here are a few ways you can excuse yourself and take a few moments to relax and refocus:

  • Practice deep breathing and relaxation strategies beforehand. Use these when needed at tense gatherings. 
  • Sit outside or take a quick walk.
  • Call or text a trusted friend or family member and share your struggles. Just voicing them can help.
  • Remove yourself from the stressful situation. Walk away and find another person to talk to, go to the kitchen and help cook or clean up, play with the kids or pets, or find another distraction from whatever is stressful.
  • Practice self-care every day. Even 15-30 minutes can make a world of difference. Click here for some self-care ideas. 

The holidays should be relaxing and enjoyable. That’s not always the case, especially in large groups of family or friends. However, these five strategies can help reduce your stress and make the holidays something to look forward to.

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