5 Simple Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

While the holidays are meant to be joyful and fun, many people find that the season brings with it more stress than relaxation. Coordinating travel plans, buying and exchanging gifts, and hosting and cooking for large groups can all contribute to higher anxiety levels. Here are 5 tips to help you stay calm (and sane) as the season approaches. 

1. Set Aside Time to Plan

Pick a day and time where you can sit down with your calendar and plan ahead for the festivities. Start by listing all of the upcoming events you’re attending and their dates. Then, consider the details for each event, like:

  • Travel Method (Road Trip, Flight, Train, etc.)
  • Departure & Arrival Times (ex: When to leave the house)
  • Do any gifts need to be purchased or wrapped ahead of time? 
  • Does any food need to be prepared? 
  • If you’re hosting, when will guests arrive and what do you need to accommodate them? 

Mark the event dates on your calendar, as well as any days leading up to the event that you’ll need in order to prepare. If you find that your calendar is too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to skip an event. Being realistic with your planning is key to help manage holiday stress.

Hint: Google Calendar is a free, and a great tool for organization.

2. Make a Holiday Budget

Make a list of people you plan to buy gifts, and give yourself a spending limit for each one. Write down any other items you think you’ll need to purchase (food, decorations, etc.) and estimate how much you’re willing to spend on those, too. Revisit your budget throughout the holidays, and if you find that you’ve over-spent on something, try to find where you can cut costs on other items. 

REMEMBER: Don’t spend money that you don’t have, and always take breaks during shopping trips.

3. Create a Relaxing Environment

If holiday decorations make you feel happy and cozy, decorate your space! Light candles, play your favorite music, open your windows (if it’s not too cold), and make sure the lighting is just how you like it. Making your environment a comfortable, safe space to be can help with seasonal depression and anxiety — which is a wonderful method to manage holiday stress.

4. Maintain Healthy Nutritional Habits

With all the delicious food and drinks being passed around, it’s easy to over-indulge. Make sure to keep an eye on your nutrition and reasonably limit your intake on treats and alcohol. Wait 15 minutes to see if you’re full before going for seconds, and drink plenty of water between any cocktails.

5. Maintain Healthy Emotional Habits

The holidays are a busy time of year, usually because of the increased amount of friends and family reaching out and wanting to meet up all in such a short period of time. Remember that it’s okay to maintain your boundaries and you don’t have to say yes to every invitation if you don’t have the emotional capacity.

It’s great to spend time with the ones you love, but it’s not great to spend that time with them feeling grumpy and exhausted from too many other commitments. 

It’s okay to admit that the holidays are stressful. In fact, accepting that you’ll likely experience some form of stress or anxiety during the season is a great first step to preemptively reducing it. Proper planning, budgeting, and habit maintenance are all effective ways to relieve holiday worries — and don’t forget to treat yourself, too! 

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