The holiday season is upon us again! And although we may be anticipating our favorite traditions – celebrating with family and friends, enjoying wonderful meals and beautiful decorations – there can also be some serious stress! 

We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves this time of year, even though we really don’t need to. Yet every year many of us feel compelled to buy and wrap the perfect gifts, bake dozens of show-stopping cookies, prepare elaborate meals, clean and decorate the house for guests…the holiday to-do list can seem endless!

In addition, this year we are still dealing with COVID, so there is the stress of “how” or even “if” to gather. Few of us want to miss another year of festivities, yet we may feel torn and anxious about what to do and how to do it. This indecision alone can be quite a drain on your mental energy! 

How Can You De-Stress During the Holidays? 

In the midst of all the holiday cheer you can find yourself feeling exhausted and depleted. So what can you do to deal with stress, in order to enjoy the holidays to the fullest? 

Creating self-care rituals can bring the calm and rejuvenation you need to enjoy the season! From unplugging, to beauty routines, to meditation, here are some easy ways to add some self-care into your life in the holiday season ahead. 

  1. Practice Gratitude Everyday. Keep a journal next to your bed and jot down a few things you are grateful for each day. From the big things such as your family and your health, to the simple joys such as your comfy pillow or a delicious cup of cocoa.
  2. Create Calming Morning and Evening Routines. Start your day with your favorite cup of coffee or tea, write in your journal and shower with an energizing body wash. At night, wind down with some relaxing music, light a beautiful candle or start a fire in the fireplace. Try to avoid screen time right before bed.
  3. Enjoy Your Favorite Beauty Rituals. You don’t need to spend a fortune at a spa when you can treat yourself at home. Take a hot bath with some fragrant oil and relax with a facial mask. Before leaving the house each day, applying some makeup and polishing your nails can give you an instant lift in mood and confidence!
  4. Splurge Now And Then. After a busy day of work or errands, consider treating yourself to a mani-pedi or a massage. You can’t put a price on the relaxing and well-deserved benefits you will receive.
  5. Communicate Your Boundaries. Let house guests know upfront about any limits. yourself permission to not accept every invitation you receive. It is perfectly OK to politely decline. Consider reducing your gift list, and let others know they can do the same. 
  6. Simplify Your To-Do List. To avoid the hustle bustle of the mall, shop online at Amazon or your favorite store. Consider giving gift cards. Grant yourself permission to buy some prepared foods and baked goods, instead of making everything from scratch.
  7. Get Regular Exercise. To enjoy both the physical and mood boosting benefits of exercise, look for ways to get moving everyday. Take a walk outdoors, or search Google or YouTube for an activity you enjoy…Zumba, tai chi, yoga; there are many options. 
  8. Practice Meditation.  Through the practice of meditation you can train your mind to focus on the here and now, calming your thoughts, which can then reduce anxiety and stress.
  9. Enjoy the Beauty of the Season. Depending on where you live, bundle up and take a walk in the snow. Delight in how it sparkles in the sun, and breathe in the fresh air. Drive around at night and take in the lights, while playing holiday music on the radio.
  10. Limit Screen Time. It’s OK to go off the grid for a bit. Give yourself regular breaks from your phone, e-mails, TV and social media. Watching the news or doom-scrolling online only adds to stress.
  11. Eat Healthy. It’s fine to indulge a bit, but shoot for moderation. Get your fill of fruits, veggies and protein each day. Healthy foods will fuel your energy level. Limit sugar, caffeine and alcohol.
  12. Get Enough Sleep. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour each night, so you can feel rested and refreshed to face the busy day ahead. It is helpful to wind down with a quiet activity such as reading a book, or taking a relaxing bath.
  13. Show Kindness to Others. Few things make us feel better than helping someone else. From holding the door for a frazzled mom pushing a stroller, to contributing to a toy or food drive…there are so many ways to brighten someone’s day!
  14. Care for your Mental Health. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. If you are struggling with anxiety depression, guilt, or grief you don’t have to tough it out alone. Talk to a trusted friend or reach out to a qualified therapist.

In Closing

There is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. Perhaps you have always done things a certain way and you worry about letting others down. But in doing so, you are forgetting about someone very important – you! 

Give yourself permission to make some needed changes. Whether you prefer big gatherings or relaxing with your nearest and dearest, be true to yourself, and honor your needs. Show yourself some kindness by keeping your expectations realistic, slowing down, and taking a nice deep breath.

Take the time to nurture your body and mind with some relaxing and rejuvenating routines. And remember to communicate your boundaries, so you can enjoy your holiday season to the fullest!

Until the next Opening the Doors post.

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