8 Ways to Beat Holiday Stress

While the entertainment industry would have us think the holidays are always full of laughs, good cheer and warm feelings, the reality is often the opposite for many people. 

Sometimes all that frenzied consumerism, party-hopping, and crazy schedules can bring out the worst in ourselves or the people we love. Other times a challenging life situation, such as a recent divorce, death in the family or financial struggles, are painfully magnified when everyone around you seems to be in such wonderfully high spirits.

No one wants to be the Grinch on Christmas. So if you tend to feel stressed or down when the holidays roll around, here are eight tips to help you turn that frown into a genuine smile.

1. Watch the buck

Nothing kills the holiday cheer like a mountain of debt. Stick to a budget while holiday shopping and only spend what you can actually afford. Be extra careful not to overspend as the holidays draw near and you’re feeling the pressure to finish your shopping in time. If you find yourself running low on funds, consider arranging a gift exchange, like a Secret Santa, or giving some homemade presents this year.

2. Give back

The holidays can sometimes leave us feeling down because of all that emphasis on the perfect gifts. Opening up a present is always a thrill but giving to others creates lasting joy. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to give back to your community.

Beat the stress this season by sharing holiday cheer with those who are less fortunate. There are so many ways to spread joy! You can bring some toys to the children’s ward at the local hospital to brighten up a sick child’s holiday. Use your time off from work to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Check to see if your employer has a volunteer program to help those in need this holiday season.

3. Stick to a schedule

Part of the holiday experience is enjoying late nights. But a lack of quality sleep can make stress levels soar. So it’s a good idea to keep some sort of schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye and, if a physical workout is part of your daily routine, don’t neglect it over the holidays. You’ll always feel better when you’re taking care of your body.

4. Party smart

Cheers! Can I pour you another glass of…water?

If you like to party, you can end up getting sick over the holidays. All that heavy drinking and loading up on refined carbs can really do your body in. Do yourself a favor this year and watch what you imbibe. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage but try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Similarly, it’s okay to break your diet over Christmas but it’s best not to go overboard. You don’t need to feel bloated and sick to enjoy the holidays. Keep the stress out by treating your body well. And, if you’re mindful about your habits, you may not even to work off any extra pounds in January!

5. Delegate

Are you hosting a crowd this Christmas? Guests can be great fun but all the extra work can drive your stress levels through the roof. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to do it all! There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Don’t feel bad about having your guests and family members pitch in with cooking and cleaning. They’ll also feel better when they’re sharing the workload. Plus, everything is easier when there are more hands on deck.

6. Take some “me” time

The nonstop partying and a house full of guests can get to you after a while. It’s always a good idea to take care of yourself but, in the chaos of the holidays, this need is often neglected. Consider running out to get yourself a manicure, taking a solitary half-hour walk, or just locking yourself in your room after a long day to savor the peace and quiet. Use meditation apps like Calm, Headspace, and more to make sure you stay mentally healthy this holiday season. You’re not being an antisocial snob if you need your “me” time; you’re just being human.

7. Give up the guilt

If you tend to overanalyze every interaction you have with family and friends, you can really beat yourself up over the holidays questioning everything you’ve said. Try to relax and let go this season. As long as you’re reasonably pleasant and agreeable, you can give yourself a break.

8. Lower your expectations

A common cause for holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. There will probably be some minor, or even major, stressors this holiday and not everything will turn out exactly as planned. All of that is okay. If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be struggling with mountains of disappointment this holiday season.
Happy holidays from all of us here at Education First FCU!