Christmas isn’t just the most wonderful time of the year – it’s also the most stressful! These ways to decrease stress during the holiday season will keep you spiritually, physically, and emotionally grounded.
And, don’t say you don’t have time to get and stay grounded at Christmas! That’s the most important time to center within yourself. As author Jim Goodwin says, “The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”
It’s when you’re the busiest that you need to stop, take a deep breath, and focus on inner peace and calm. You can do this even in the midst of a crowded mall full of holiday shoppers! These ten ways to decrease stress levels will help you during the holiday season. And for more stress reduction techniques, click The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook.
10 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress at Christmas
1. Set realistic expectations. Don’t expect your mom to suddenly stop criticizing your weight, or your sister to stop boasting about her kids, or your granny to remember your name! Expect your family to be the same as they’ve always been – both good and bad. Celebrate the best, and accept the worst.
2. Learn to say no. You don’t have to attend every party, dinner, kids’ Christmas concert, or cookie exchange you’re invited to! In fact, the more functions that you unwillingly attend, the more you set yourself up for the post-Christmas blues. Prioritize your time and energy, leave space in your schedule to relax, and spend more time than usual with people who fill you up with positive energy.
3. Stay spiritually grounded. To reduce holiday stress, stay in touch with God or Buddha or the Universe – whoever or whatever grounds you. Take time to breathe deeply and say a prayer, or just sit on a park bench and reflect on this season of your life. If you’re disconnected from your soul, you won’t just be stressed at Christmas…you’ll be deeply unhappy and dissatisfied.
4. Laugh long, loud, and liberally! Watch funny movies, rent old episodes of Friends, take your kids or young family members skating, skiing, or snowshoeing. Laughter lowers stress hormones and improves blood flow, which increases your energy levels. And the more energy you have, the better you’ll feel.
5. Get enough sleep. Whether you need eight or five hours of sleep every night – make sure you’re getting it. Take time for naps or sleep-ins on the weekends. Be creative, and nap in the car or at the office if you need to! The more rested you are, the less stress you’ll feel.
6. Start new Christmas holiday traditions. A great way to de-stress is to let go of old holiday traditions and start new ones! Instead of going to your mom’s for the holiday meal, consider hosting it at your place. Instead of fighting with your dad or sister, let go of old arguments and don’t even think about starting new ones. Instead of exchanging the same old gifts with your spouse, try something new, like a trip to Mexico or hockey game and dinner in a fancy restaurant.
7. Get enough sunlight – even in winter. If you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or the winter blues, make sure you’re getting enough light, even if it’s indoor. Consider buying a light box, or research natural ways to lighten the winter blues. Vitamin D and melatonin are both stimulated by sunlight, and they both play roles in improving mood and facilitating sleep. Sunlight can reduce the effects of holiday stress and improve your mood.
8. Decrease your alcohol intake. Excessive drinking affects your physical, emotional, and spiritual health – and it can increase holiday stress levels. Limit yourself to a couple drinks a night at Christmas functions – or eliminate alcohol altogether!
9. Delegate holiday responsibilities. If you’re hosting a big family Christmas dinner, ask everyone to help out in some specific way (eg, “Bill, please set the table with X, Y, and Z.”). The more help you have, the less stuff you have to worry about…and the less stress you’ll feel! If you’re struggling with anxiety, read How to Reduce Anxiety in the Present Moment.
10. Watch what you eat. The holidays always bring cookies, cakes, and pies – oh my! Have a taste of the dishes that most appeal to you, but don’t overindulge. Overdoing the fat, sugar, and refined carbs will make you feel mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically sluggish…which does not decrease stress levels!
If you have any thoughts or questions or these ways to reduce holiday stress, please comment below…