Don’t Let Holiday Stress Get You Down

To say 2020 has been stressful would be an understatement. But, the fun of the holidays will help ease some of the stress, right? Um, not likely. Even in a typical year, nearly 9 out of 10 Americans report being stressed during the holidays. COVID-19 restrictions only threaten to make matters worse. Still, you can have a lower-stress holiday season, if you’re willing to take conscious steps to lower your stress. The good news? The steps are easy to take. Following are some ideas.

Get outside. Fresh air and sunshine will almost always boost your spirits. Take the time to breathe deeply and soak up the sun. Sniff a little aromatherapy. Enlist your sense of smell to help you feel better. A nice whiff of citrus can help to give you fresh energy, and the aromas of the season – cinnamon, baking smells, candles – can evoke happy memories.

Exercise. The body and brain are connected. Moving your body will move your mood.

Plan. A lot of holiday stress comes from feeling a lack of control. Fend that off by creating a schedule, measuring out your responsibilities and planning for downtime.

Talk. Nothing creates holiday stress like family tension. Dodge those dinner-table tantrums by connecting before the holidays and ironing out differences with reasonable conversations.

Laugh. Make time for levity. Watch a funny movie, be silly with your kids, talk with friends who make you laugh … whatever it takes to give you the giggles.

Say “no.” One of the biggest sources of holiday stress is overcommitting …to get-togethers, volunteer opportunities, helping out, and more. Learn to say “no” and you’ll say “yes” to lower stress.

Manage expectations … especially yours. Don’t expect the perfect holiday. It rarely happens. Set reasonable expectations of everyone – especially yourself – and everybody will be less stressed.

Eat better. There is a great temptation to eat poorly during the holidays, but that sweet and heavy food often just generates stress and guilt. Focus on healthful foods and indulge only moderately in the sweet or fatty stuff.

Get quiet. Find time to quiet down, breathe deeply and simply relax. You can literally lower your heart rate and lower your stress level by consciously focusing on being quiet.

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