It’s that time of year again. Between the endless parties and obligations, visiting with friends and family (and sometimes avoiding certain friends and family), not to mention navigating decadent table spreads and endless office baked goods, it’s no wonder we sometimes dread the holiday season. Rest assured, there is a way you can manage the inevitable holiday stress and glide to a new year with balance, poise, and at least most of your sanity in tact.
The key thing for managing holiday stress is to realize that we often can’t change the situations around us, but that we can change how we interact and respond in these situations. Which means, proper stress management starts with you…
1. Take care of yourself.
Know your limits. Make sure to get enough sleep, drink water, balance your eating (which of course includes a cookie or two!) and most important, keep your sense of humor handy. This is supposed to be a joyful season, full of good times and many laughs. Sometimes that means laughing at yourself.
2. Say no.
“Thank you so much for the invitation, but we have another engagement.”
Now isn’t that a nice way of saying no? It’s likely that you won’t be able to–or want to–attend every party or engagement that you’re invited to, so here’s a chance to prioritize which ones you’d like to attend and politely decline (with appropriate notice) the rest.
3. Keep calm, carry on, and let go.
You’ve likely seen these “Keep Calm, Carry On” signs everywhere. As simple as they might seem, they’re such a good reminder. One of the best tactics for holiday stress management is to learn what you can control and let go of the rest. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holidays overwhelm you. Keep calm in the moment by taking a deep breath, thinking before you speak, and remembering that whatever’s stressing you right this moment is not likely going to matter in one hour, or even one year. Keep your focus on the joy of the season and have fun.
4. Have a little grace.
As women, we put so much focus on small details and often lose track of the overall picture. I can bet you a nicely frosted gingerbread cookie that no one’s going to be focusing on those little details half as much as you are. Let go of control and have grace with yourself. Everyone forgets to serve a dish, or perfectly wrap some gift. Repeat mantra from above: “Keep calm, carry on.”
5. Accept help.
Just like you don’t have to control everything, you don’t have to do it on your own. Let someone bring a dish to the dinner party, and then let your friends help you do the dishes when they meal’s over.
6. Get rid of useless worry.
There’s a difference between worry and planning. Trust that you’ll handle situations that might come up and focus on what’s truly in your control. Perhaps you could mentally walk through a situation that could be stressful and practice your response. Plan ahead what you can to minimize stress.
The last step for stress management ends with you…
Everyone finds themselves in situations that aren’t preferable. Cue the awkward family dinner or significant other’s office Christmas party. In those uncomfortable moments, you choose your memories. How much fun you have is entirely up to you. You can focus on all the reasons why you’d rather be at home with some spiked eggnog in pajamas, or you can be present in the moment and make the choice to put forth an effort and find the good in your current situation.
So when you start to feel overwhelmed by too much family pressure or obligation, all the little details or overwhelming stress of presents and parties, remember that this is the season of joy. Trust that you can and will navigate holiday stress by taking care of yourself, setting and knowing your boundaries, and choosing how you respond.