But with the fun, the holidays can also bring extra burdens, such as the financial stress of shopping and traveling, or extra responsibilities of entertaining, cleaning and decorating. If you are far away from your loved ones, you might feel some loneliness. Or if your family is close by, you might feel extra pressure to spend time with them.
Below are 7 strategies to help you navigate the added pressures and demands the holidays can bring.
- Stick to a budget. During holidays it is easy to spend, spend, and overspend. Set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Explore holiday related activities that are free: go for drives to look at holiday lights in various neighborhoods, go window-shopping, look for free community events or, plan a potluck meal instead of trying to handle the cooking all yourself.
- Don’t over-indulge. That holiday cocktail that helped you laugh and unwind is also a depressant – so keep consumption to a minimum. If you are under stress, your body’s ability to tolerate the effects of alcohol may be lower than usual. And we all know that too much food can contribute to feeling lethargic, tired and guilty – not to mention the extra pounds it adds and all the frustration that brings!
- Get prepared ahead of time. If you are entertaining or invited to a party and asked to bring a dish, keep it simple. Make dishes that can be prepared ahead of time or are partially prepared and/or able to be frozen. Do as many things in advance as possible, so you can relax and visit with family and friends when the time comes. Many stores offer affordable and delicious appetizers that are pre-made and ready to serve.
- Get into the light. Research suggests lack of daylight can contribute to stress and depression. To boost your mood, spend as much time outside as often as you can. This may mean taking a short walk on your lunch break, or stepping out for a coffee break to get in direct daylight.
- Make time for exercise. Exercise can have positive effects on mood, health, and longevity. Carve out specific time during the holidays to exercise with friends and family. Frequency is more important than duration, so taking several short walks alone or with a loved one can be as beneficial as a longer workout in the gym.
- Take time for YOU. There are many things you can do to unplug and pamper yourself. Get a pedicure or a massage, take a long bath, escape to the movies, curl up with a good book or DVD, or steal away to the park or your favorite coffee house to read the paper. Find something that nurtures your soul.
- Reach out to others. Acts of kindness and generosity bring as much or more joy and happiness to the giver as they do the receiver. If you are far from family or friends during holidays, contact those you love to regain some connection. Or think about ways you might start new traditions for yourself in this phase of your life. Consider planning a holiday meal with others who are also far from home or volunteer to provide warm meals for homeless.
For stress-free holiday decorating ideas, consider wreaths, centerpieces and garlands from Lynch Creek – an environmentally conscious farm preserving the forests of the Pacific Northwest.