The holiday season is such a wonderful time of the year. It’s the time for cozy nights and hot cocoa, festive parties and warm family gatherings, thoughtful gift-giving, and general merry-making. But unfortunately, if you’re like most people, the stress of the holidays can also leave you a little less cheery and more dreary. Don’t worry, a few simple tips can help you ward off a hectic holiday and bring back the joy.
Why We Stress During The Holidays
We put too much on our plates.
The holidays are jam-packed with social commitments, family visits, volunteering, traditions, and more. Year-end brings deadlines, projects, and extra preparation for January. Holiday travel and shopping eats up hours of our precious time. We become time-starved, sleep-deprived, and partied-out.
More literally, we also tend to overeat, stress-eat, and fill up on decadent desserts. While enjoying holiday treats is one of the best things about the holidays, moderation is key. Indulge, but don’t go overboard. Excess sugar and “junk” foods can throw off our brain chemistry and lead to increased stress, depression, and sleep troubles.
We focus on material things and comparisons.
One of the biggest contributors to holiday stress is gift-giving. Giving is meant to be a joyful experience – a simple way to show loved ones how much you care. In the age of “more is better,” however, holiday gift-giving has almost become a sport.
Finding the perfect gift for dozens of friends and family members is not only time consuming and mentally straining but can be financially stressful as well. For some, comparing our gifts to others’ can incur feelings of anxiety or embarrassment.
We hold on to expectations.
Most of us have an idealized version of the holidays lingering in the back of our heads. We imagine Thomas Kinkade-esque cottages decorated just right, roaring fireplaces, elegantly-wrapped presents, and a congenial family reminiscing over the perfect cup of cider.
Reality, however, rarely lives up to this dream. There’s never enough time. Winter weather is unpredictable. Work and commitments pile up. Relatives can be, well, complicated.
When we hold onto expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Life almost never works out according to plan, so release expectations and welcome in life as it comes.
Our Tips For A Low-Stress Holiday Season
The holidays should be magical. Let’s get back to the true joy of the festive season and beat this holiday stress. Here are our top tips to stay (relatively) stress-free this year.
Let it Go, Let it Go
To truly release the stress of the holidays, get comfortable with letting things go. First, prioritize you biggest holiday to-do’s. What aspects bring you the most joy? Put those front and center. What commitments, traditions, or to-do’s turn you into an ice queen? Let those go and focus on getting more out of doing less.
Take it Outside
Stress cowers in the face of nature and exercise. Bundle up and enjoy a brisk walk outside when you’re feeling stress take over. It doesn’t have to be a grand outdoor adventure (although a snowy hike with the family would do wonders). Even a 10-20 minute walk will refresh your mind and give a new perspective to solve any holiday horrors.
Think Like A Kid On Christmas Morning
What better time to bring out your inner child than the holidays? Do you remember what the holidays were like when you were young? Back when the magic was real? You can still find that joy and amazement, you just have to embrace life with new childlike eyes. Build a snowman, go to a museum, bake cookies, snuggle up with a classic holiday movie, wear holiday pajamas – whatever lets your heart be light!
Surrender to Sweet Slumber
Bring on those visions of dancing sugar plums. There may be no sweeter cure for stress than a decent night’s sleep. But why does it seem that when we need sleep the most, we are too busy to get in those precious hours? Even worse, we may lie awake in bed reviewing scary to-do lists or second-guessing the presents we spent hours searching for earlier.
To beat stress, have energy, and be in the holiday spirit, you’ve got to get sleep, and a weighted blanket can really do wonders. Our favorite fix is our knitted weighted blanket – the Cotton Napper is designed to give you a more sound, restful sleep. Add in a soothing nighttime meditation and you’ve got the mood just right.
Practice Heartfelt Generosity – And Don’t Forget Gratitude
Giving is not just about material gifts. Some of the most meaningful ways to give involve no packed shopping malls or wrapping paper origami. Give with your heart, mind, and time.
Can you swap a day of shopping for a day volunteering to help others? What simple cheer can you bring to your stressed-out coworkers? Could your smile, helping hand, or genuine compliment help someone feel the holiday spirit?
Giving often helps us realize that we have much to be grateful for. Take note of the small things you’re blessed with (A warm home? Your favorite sweater? No flat tires today?) and embody the true meaning of the season.
And To All A Good Night
If we had a holiday wish, it would be for all the stress to disappear like cookies on Christmas Eve. At the heart of the season is joy, peace, and connection. Let’s get back to that.
Your blissful holiday season starts with a blissful mindset. Clear the expectations, frustrations, and worries. Make time for the things you love – and make time for yourself. Get a good night’s sleep and most of all, enjoy the magic.
Tips To Stay (Relatively) Stress-Free This Holiday Season
Feeling stressed out from all the seasonal activities? Don’t worry, a few simple tips can help you ward off a hectic holiday and bring back the joy.
It’s normal to be stressed out during the holidays – this is a crazy time of year! But you can work to manage our stress better and actually enjoy the holiday season.
Less is more. Commit your energy to just a few things that you love about the holidays – including some childlike fun – and let the rest handle itself.
Don’t skimp on sleep. A good night’s rest can make all the difference when it comes to staying level-headed all season long.
Focus on the bigger picture. Gifts and gadgets don’t bring true meaning to your holidays – connection and sharing does. Give compliments, a helping hand, and kindness.
Did you know?
8 out of 10 Americans anticipate stress during the holiday season.