Feeling a bout of seasonal stress coming on? It’s perfectly normal, but it doesn’t have to drag you down. This year it’s time to take back the calm, no matter what the holidays have in store for you — and we’re here to show you how.
The longer you wait to get things done, from shopping to menu planning, the more stressed out you’re going to get as the holidays loom ever closer. Take it from us: The best way to stay ahead of seasonal stress (and it is possible) is to get as much as you can done now, before the malls are packed and you’re so busy going to office parties and gift exchanges that you can barely find time to breathe, let alone wrap and shop and cook and clean.
Schedule “down time”
Can’t stand the thought of baking another batch of cookies? Feel faint thinking of yet another trip to the store? Balance the to-dos with some scheduled free time. Even if it’s just 30 minutes each day, actually put that into your calendar so you “have” to take a break. What you do with that non-holiday time is up to you, but we suggest taking a hot bath, curling up with a good book, lingering over a glass of wine or just plain doing nothing at all. The only rule: Whatever you do, it can’t be related to holiday to-dos.
Just say no
We understand most people aim to please, and around the holidays it gets even harder to say no, but sometimes you just need to give yourself a break. Be honest with your neighbor that you just can’t make it to the cookie exchange this year. Tell your sister-in-law you don’t have time to swing by her open house. There will be plenty of opportunities to see everyone you need to see, so try to avoid overloading your holiday calendar to the point of burnout. Opting out of even a few events can save time and your sanity.
Hit the gym
There is no better antidote to stress than a little exercise. We know you’re short on time, but even 30 minutes of get-fit time can make a huge difference when it comes to how you handle your seasonal stress levels. Burning off some of that anxiety on the treadmill or in a step class can leave you relaxed and ready to face whatever challenge you’re up against, be it a packed mall, extra-long lines everywhere or a mother-in-law who won’t stop bothering you.
Can’t get to the gym? Head outside for a breath of fresh air every time you feel your stress meter hovering at dangerous levels. Take the dog for a walk, go for a run or simply walk around the block while you get a grip on whatever happens to be hindering your holiday cheer.
For every big holiday task your accomplish (scrubbing the floor, wrapping the last gift, decorating like a pro), find a small and affordable (yet fun) way to treat yourself. Maybe it’s a new nail or lip color, maybe it’s an extra-long bubble bath, maybe it’s a catch-up session with a friend you haven’t had time to see lately. The point is to give yourself little things to look forward to amid the holiday frenzy. They’ll distract you from the stress and make the holidays that much more enjoyable.
What are your holiday stress-busting secrets? Share in the comments below!