Today I’m sharing some techniques that I use to help with my stress levels around this time of year. It’s a busy season with lots of expectations of how things will happen, which inevitably end up not going according to plan. This of course adds to the stress. I’m hoping that some of my tips to deal with stress will help you too.
Let go of expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can ruin everything from gifts to Christmas dinner. Instead of putting them on other people or yourself, don’t expect too much. Show others grace and do the exact same thing with yourself. Not every Christmas is going to be “perfect” or go exactly according to plan. All you can do is your best.
Make time for yourself.
I know how busy it can get around the holidays. There’s parties, gifts to buy, cleaning to do, the to do list can seem endless sometimes. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything going on and all the things that have to get done. Take the time out of your busy schedule to take care of yourself. Go out for dinner with a friend. Take your current book to a coffee shop and read while sipping on your favorite drink. Splurge on a mani. Do something that’s just for yourself.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the “stuff” this time of year. Did you get everyone on your list exactly what they wanted? Does your Christmas tree have the perfect look? One way to combat that is to do something for someone else. Whether that’s volunteering at a homeless shelter as a family or adopting a family who needs a bit of help, there’s always a way to give back. It won’t take a lot of looking to find a way to help someone else that fits into both your time and financial budgets.
Don’t fall into the comparison trap.
With social media I know it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap. Why don’t I have the perfect family like theirs? Her holiday party dress is cuter than mine. Their tree is perfect. Acknowledge that everyone celebrates the holidays differently (and everyone has different traditions). Remember that you’re only seeing and hearing about the highlights of other people’s holidays. Embrace the way that your family celebrates the holidays.
Don’t overdo the alcohol.
Alcohol seems like it’s everywhere during this time of year. While it might be tempting to drink more than you usually would, it’s important to keep the alcohol consumption in check to help combat stress. I don’t think anyone deals with stress best when they’re tipsy. It’s a better idea to enjoy responsibly so that you can deal with things better as they come up. Some of your options include saying no when offered alcohol, asking for a mocktail, or sticking with a limit of just one or two alcoholic beverages per night.
Don’t overdo the treats.
As with the alcohol, make sure you enjoy Christmas treats, but don’t go overboard with them. I’m willing to bet that if you’re mindlessly eating chocolate just because it’s in front of you, you won’t enjoy it as much as having a piece or two of your favorite kind of chocolate (mine is Lindt). Pick and choose your treats and make sure that they’ll be things that you’ll really enjoy instead of just eating them because they’re there. Am I saying that you shouldn’t enjoy any treats? Absolutely not – instead be mindful about the ones that you do indulge in.
If you live somewhere like I do where there’s snow on the ground 6 months of the year and nights get long over the winter, there’s something about embracing the cold weather that helps. Getting out for a walk during your lunch hour means you get a little extra vitamin D from the sun and a bit of physical activity. Take the family downhill skiing. Build a snowman in the backyard. Try experimenting with different activities to find out what you like – it might take some trial and error.
Get enough sleep.
One of my favorite features of my Fitbit Charge (review here) is that it reminds me to start getting ready for bed at 9 pm. If I do that I know that I’ll be in bed at a reasonable time and give myself the opportunity to give my body the rest that it needs. You can’t get ready for Christmas and enjoy yourself if you’re sleep deprived. I know I don’t function my best with 4 hours of sleep. I’m much nicer to others (and myself) if I get 7 or 8 hours.
You had to know that I was going to add this one to the list, right? Even though workouts might take away a bit of time from other things on your to do list, I think it’s still worth it to get them in. Cardio and strength training are both huge stress relievers for me, so being able to schedule in a trip to the gym is a lifesaver for me when I’m stressed out. Ask any runner about post workout endorphins. They’re definitely a thing.
What’s one of your tips for battling stress during this time of year?