It goes without saying that the holidays can be stressful. Social gatherings, financial demands, and travel concerns can all quickly become a huge headache for people who are doing their best to please or impress their loved ones.
These points of stress do not need to be the only thing on your mind this holiday. What you should take away is the feeling of peace of happiness — a break from life's monotony. Here are some tips for alleviating your stress this holiday season.
Before you go and see your family for the holiday festivities, make sure you have all the necessary pieces in place. Take note of all the people you intend to buy gifts for so nobody is skipped. It will also give you the opportunity to budget your gift spending.
If you are traveling a fair distance, create packing lists and even itineraries to make that process go as smoothly as possible. You'll be able to rest assured you aren't forgetting something essential, and that goes a long way to easing your anxiety.
Everyone wants to see everyone around the holidays. With such limited time, this is sometimes just not possible. If there are family members or friends that you simply cannot make time for this year, let them know as soon as possible. This allows them to make alternative plans if needed.
If you need to cancel or decline invites, consider making future plans with those people so they understand the issue is time constraints and not that you don't want to see them!
Nothing creates drama around the holidays like the perceived lack of care with gift-giving. If you know your budget, divide it by the number of people you need to buy for to ensure you're purchasing comparable presents. This way, nobody will feel slighted, and no one will be labeled the "favorite" who received the most expensive gift.
While the holidays are called "the season of giving", it starts to feel like there are simply too many traditions that revolve around presents. You have cards, office gift exchanges, "white elephant" style exchanges, and of course, stocking stuffers.
The best approach with these, if you don't decide to skip them completely, is to keep them cheap. There will be a time for more expensive and thoughtful gifts, but stocking-stuffers are meant to be smaller gifts that are usually some form of consumable. Chocolate, socks, and even magazines are some perfect choices.
Everyone has a certain relative or group of relatives who are difficult to get along with. If you're concerned about certain conversation topics or a bombardment of judgmental questions, figuring out how to remain calm and respond appropriately will go miles toward keeping yourself healthy and de-escalating any issues.
The holidays are about being thankful for the people in your life and while keeping the peace isn't already the best tactic, it might be over the holidays. Plan out ways you can deal with that problematic person, whether it's staying away or avoiding certain subject matter.
While the previous tip reminds you to be patient with difficult people, it's always good to make sure you aren't part of the problem! Read the room. If you don't think the group is ready to have a deep discussion of philosophy, controversial topics, or that thing that your least favorite politician said, just don't bring it up. Definitely don't bring up things just to stir the pot. It's not the time.
In most cases, the holidays are the only time you get to have so many of your relatives in one place. Do what you can to make this an enjoyable time for all.
You don't want to exit the holiday season without creating some memories. There is nothing that stirs up conversation and fills the room with laughter like some good holiday activities.
If you're in an area that gets snow at this time of year, plan a winter walk, a skate, or even some snowshoeing. If your family likes games, bring along some classics to get everyone participating in a bit of friendly competition.
If you're hosting or being hosted for the holidays, show your thanks by contributing. Offer to help with the meals, the dishes, or the decorating. It's a holiday for the host as well, and they deserve a break from their efforts to relax and enjoy the season.
Holiday dinners are loaded with delicious food you'll only get to enjoy once or twice a year. It's definitely the time to have an extra helping of stuffing, turkey, or Grandma's famous mashed potatoes.
You absolutely don't need to count calories or focus on your diet during the holiday season, but it's not a bad idea to remember what foods make you feel crappy when you've eaten a lot. Have seconds — or even thirds, what the heck — but you won't enjoy the evening festivities if your stomach is aching, so listen to your body. Take a walk between courses or opt for extra helpings of the dishes that are less likely to give you indigestion!
Take time to reflect on your holiday season. You may have not received the gift you wanted, or the reaction you wanted for the gifts you gave. The most important thing to take away from the holidays is that these memories will last a lifetime, so focus on how lucky are all were all able to be together, and hope for many more years of joyous holidays.
Post-holiday stress is almost as common as pre-holiday, so do what you can to leave on a loving note so you sleep well knowing this was a holiday for the books.