Holidays, Mental Health

5 Valuable Tips for Staying Sane During the Holidays Everyone Should Start Doing NOW

The holiday season can be busy, stressful, and just plain hard. There’s so much to do and worry about – like the decorating, cooking, entertaining, gift shopping, food prepping, party planning, and cleaning up. Incorporating these five useful tips help me to destress and actually enjoy myself and my family during the holiday season. Use these tips to help you sail through the holiday season with little stress so you can actually experience the joy this season can bring.

1. Plan Ahead

Every time I’m stressed out about something, I kick myself for not planning ahead or preparing better. Although it’s not possible to plan for every scenario that may come your way, planning for the holidays can be easy if you put some time aside early to figure out what you need to do, buy, and prep for.

When planning ahead, figure out what you will need for the holidays. Consider using a notebook or an app in your phone to keep it all together. I use Google Sheets to keep a Holiday Gift List that tells me who to buy for, what to buy, my budget, and where to get it. You can find the printable version HERE – FREE PRINTABLE HOLIDAY GIFT AND BUDGET PLANNING CHECKLIST. I can refer to this when I’m out shopping and check off the things I’ve already bought and know who’s left that I need to buy for.

Make a schedule of when you would like to do the Thanksgiving shopping, hang up lights, put up the tree, decorate the house, mail the Christmas cards, make any homemade gifts, bake cookies with your kids/grandkids, etc. Break this up by weeks then days. I actually made one that I use every year since I typically do the same traditions each year. I’m working on getting this ready to share with you so stay tuned! Make sure to include events to attend – family parties, work parties, friend gift exchanges, dance recitals, church events, etc. Don’t leave anything out. You need to write it down, so it has a place and you can plan for it.

2. Do Something For Yourself

We often spend so much time making the holidays great for others, that we tend to stop thinking about our own needs. It’s important to remember to take care of ourselves. For me, I have to include this in my holiday planning schedule or I’ll flat out forget it. This could be scheduling yourself a hair appointment or massage (or take turns massaging with your partner), watching a funny movie (it’s important to laugh!), meeting a friend for lunch or a drink, listening to good music, or taking a soothing bath.

3. Don’t Be a Perfectionist

Not being a perfectionist can be tough on those that like the picture perfect holiday. Take a deep breath and realize no matter how much you plan, things aren’t going to go the way you thought and THAT’S OKAY. Shrug your shoulders and look for the positive. Focus on the things you do have, the things you can control, and that most people don’t remember the little details.

If you feel like you’re overwhelmed and stretched thin each year, take a look at all the things you wrote down in your holiday planning list. Cross some things off this list that you could go without going, doing, or making – especially those that don’t bring you joy. This could include not hanging up so many lights, not making everything for the meal “homemade,” or not creating everybody a handmade gift. Ease up on the expectations you put on yourself and do less! This can include traditions that you don’t enjoy.

4. Stay Healthy

Studies have shown that negative stress can cause physical effects on your body such as headaches, stomach aches, high blood pressure, more susceptible to getting sick, sleeping poorly, and mental health issues. Taking care of your body and mind is important, but often forgotten during the business of the season.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a walk. The movement of walking will help release tension and stress all over your body. It will help for you to get out to get some sun and Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps boost immunity and aid in brain and heart health. If it’s cold where you live, layer up! I live in a cold environment and regularly exercise outside and what I’ve learned is the more layers you have, the less you’ll feel cold! Find other ways to incorporate working out during the holiday season. Working out can help you destress, refocus, feel happier, and more energized.

Stress can be amplified when you aren’t getting enough sleep. Lack of sleep can make you forgetful, irritable, and not motivated. It can also weaken your immune system. Make sure you are getting to bed a decent hour and take a 15 minute power nap when feeling tired during the day. It will make all the difference!

5. Serve Others and Reach Out

There are so many opportunities to serve others during the holiday season. This does not have to be a big service project. The simplest acts of service often mean the most. Many organizations do a giving tree where you can provide a gift for children in need. Pay for the meal for the car behind you in the drive-through. Smile at people while waiting in lines instead of looking at your phone. Donate food to local shelters and food banks. Do random acts of kindness like shoveling someone’s driveway, delivering cookies, or writing cards for soldiers, policemen, or firemen.

If you are lonely or holidays remind you of a sad event, reach out to others for help. Call a close friend, visit a family member, or invite someone to go to lunch. Talk to someone who can help you get through this holiday season, because sometimes, it’s just hard. Know you are loved and it’s okay if you can’t do it all!

Incorporating these five useful tips WILL help you stay sane during this holiday season and experience a little of the joy this season can bring! Happy Holidays!!!

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