Hard to believe we're already in the 2nd week of December. That can only mean one thing - the holiday madness is in full swing. And all that celebrating is going to ratchet up the stress level even more! (Um, hooray?)
If you’d like to actually enjoy yourself over the next couple of weeks, check out my top eight tips for making this your best holiday season yet!
- Make a holiday budget and follow it.
Determining how much you can afford and actually sticking to your budget will go a long way toward easing your holiday stress now and in the first few months of 2016. During the beginning of December, create a list (don’t forget to check it twice!) of upcoming holiday-related expenses and promise yourself not to deviate from it.
- Remember that a little exercise can yield big benefits.
For me, December is the time of year when my exercise mojo is at its peak. (Oh, to have that energy and motivation all year long!) For most people, though, it’s the time of year when gym routines often fall by the wayside. If you’re in the latter category, try not to skip exercise completely during the holidays. A bit of movement can do a lot to relieve stress—and the holiday season (with all that celebrating, shopping, decorating, excessive partying, and other events) can wear anyone down. Rather than feel you must either continue hardcore workouts or jettison your exercise routine altogether, try to find the middle path: commit to getting some exercise just twice a week. You’ll be amazed at how it will help keep your sanity intact!
- Remember to breathe.
It’s no secret that spending time with family can be tough. Even if you and your family usually get along really well with each other, being in close proximity with them for an extended period can get on your nerves. So start practicing your deep breathing techniques now so you’ll be prepared when you need to relieve some of the stress that builds up: inhale through your nose for a count of four, then exhale through your mouth for a count of five.
- Spend quality time with your family.
Focus on your family. If your family drives you crazy, this advice may seem counterintuitive on the surface. But actually talking with your family can remind you why you work so hard throughout the year. (And at the same time, engaging the people who drive you crazy can remind you why you see them only once a year!) Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your family—even the ones who aren’t your favourite relatives—because you just never know when someone will draw his or her last breath.
- Understand that you control your schedule.
You can say “no” to invitations! Conserve your energy (and preserve your sanity) by agreeing to attend only those events that you want to attend. If there’s something on your calendar that you aren’t thrilled about (perhaps an obligatory work function, for example), use the “see and be seen” strategy: make a beeline to the people who need to see your face. Then don’t linger—leave.
- Block off an hour a week for yourself.
During any season it’s important to make time for yourself. But during the holidays, it’s particularly critical to spend an hour a week on something that relaxes you and soothes your spirit. If that sounds impossible, remember that there are 168 hours in each week, so don’t claim you can’t find one hour for yourself in there! (And yes, I’m yelling! That’s how important this is!) So get a mani/pedi, read a book, do some yoga—devote an hour to whatever lets you clear your head and reset your mental tripwire.
- Be prepared for things to go wrong.
Whether you’ll be hosting the holiday festivities or traveling to your family this year, things are going to go wrong. So make a pact with yourself right now that when something does go wrong, you won’t let it destroy your mood. Only you can control how you feel (even if others try to thwart your good spirits), so just plan to go with the flow and not let negativity or problems get the best of you. As the old saying goes, “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop!”
- Plan for your journey to take longer than you expect.
AAA estimated that over 98 million people traveled 50 miles or more during the year-end holiday season last year. If you’re flying this holiday season, you’ll be joined by millions of people (many of whom rarely fly), which means the airport security lines will be even more of a nightmare than usual. And if you’re driving, you’ll be sharing the roadways with a lot of other vehicles. Planes, automobiles, buses, trains—they’ll all be super crowded. No matter how you’re getting to your destination, your transit time will be longer than usual. If you prepare for those delays in advance and include them in your schedule, you can ward off the stress associated with running late while traveling.
The holidays are about appreciating family and friends—a fact that easy to forget amid the hustle and bustle of celebrations and festivities. So remind yourself of it (daily!), and make this the year you don’t let the holiday madness overtake you!
Good luck, and happy holidays!
To see the original posting of the story and read more posts by Val click here.