“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but also a time when stress levels soar. We have put together some top tips to stop stress in its tracks and make the season of goodwill more enjoyable.
While Christmas is known as “the season to be jolly,” it can be a significant source of stress, pressure, and conflict for many of us. Some people can feel overwhelmed by the excess, expectations, and exchange and become depressed during the holidays.
A lack of time and money, credit card debt and the pressure of gift-giving can often contribute to stress during the holiday season.
With all the cooking, decorating, visiting, and gift-giving, the holidays can seem more like trying to meet a high-pressure deadline than a vacation. So, try these Christmas stress-busting strategies to ease the strain and help stress melt away.
1. Limit Spending
Money issues are one of the leading causes of stress during the holiday season. Gift buying, entertainment, and travel can all fuel financial burdens, even for the savviest shoppers. However, here are some steps that you can take to limit financial stress.
Set a budget. First of all, make sure that all your usual expenses are accounted for so that you do not fall short on bills such as rent. Plan for any other spending over the holidays, including any parties you may be hosting or traveling to visit friends or family.
Once these items have been subtracted from your budget, you can then work out how much you can spend on gifts. Being organized and realistic about your budget will help you to ensure that you do not overspend.
Avoid temptation. It is often impossible to steer clear of stores and shopping malls altogether over the festive season, but limiting the time that you spend in these places can also help you to curb your spending.
Manage impulsive spending by taking only the cash you can afford to spend on shopping trips and leaving all credit and debit cards at home.
Keep in mind what is important. Overspending can overshadow the true sentiment of Christmas. If your expense list exceeds your monthly budget, keep in mind that your relationships with friends and family are more important than material objects.
2. Manage Expectations
Everyone has an idea in their heads of the perfect holiday, but when reality falls short of the vision, stress can ensue. Try to manage expectations with these simple tips.
Despite your grand plans, no event ever runs seamlessly, and this also rings true for holiday celebrations. Rather than accumulating stress along the way from any mishaps that might occur, view these miniature calamities as an opportunity to exercise flexibility and resilience.
Dinner being 30 minutes late, spilling food on your festive outfit, or having a lop-sided tree is not going to ruin your day. Instead, they’ll create fond memories that you can reflect on in years to come.
Take some time out
Carrying the world on your shoulders and trying to achieve everything alone during the holidays can take its toll on your mind and body.
Enlist some help in accomplishing some of the tasks on your list and take some time out. Destressing can benefit you and the rest of your family. Focus on doing something that you find relaxing to recharge your batteries, such as reading a book, watching a Christmas movie, listening to music, or going for a massage.
3. Avoid Overindulging
‘Tis the season for indulgence, and whether it be a festive holiday party or a family dinner, we are surrounded by extravagant foods and alcoholic drinks.
Although many of us only gain an extra pound during the holiday period, that extra pound may build up over the coming years and contribute to obesity later in life, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Excessive stress raises appetite and cravings for sugary and fatty foods, and chronic drinking can further exacerbate stress by raising levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Dietitians from the University of Missouri in Columbia recommend that families should aim to maintain healthful dietary habits during the holidays in order to avoid weight gain and stress.
- Eat a healthful diet during the day. Eat some high-protein snacks, such as yogurt or an apple with peanut butter, so that you are not too hungry by the time that dinner arrives.
- Make simple food swaps. Eat whole-wheat bread instead of white, and brown rice instead of white, to help keep you feeling fuller for longer.
- Be treat-wise. Enjoy seasonal treats, but try to control portion sizes.
If you do find yourself overindulging, maintain perspective. One day of indulgence will not lead to significant weight gain, as long as you plan to get back on track with healthful food choices and exercise the next day.
5. Have Some Fun
Laughter goes a long way in the fight against stress and could be just what the doctor ordered.
Laughter lightens your mood, stimulates your heart, lungs, and muscles, and also releases endorphins. Laughter also boosts circulation, helps muscles relax, and lessens the physical symptoms that are associated with stress.
Whether your laughter is powered by sidesplitting moments in your favorite movie, jokes at the dinner table, a holiday prank, or an afternoon of fun activities, be sure to include some holiday humor, giggles, and guffaws. Even looking forward to a funny event raises relaxation-inducing hormones and decreases stress hormones.
Finding positive, healthful ways to manage stress could reduce many of the related adverse health consequences. Finding stress-busting techniques that work best for you can enable you to have a stress-free Christmas.