6 Steps to Enjoying, Not Surviving, The Holidays
If you are reading this, I am sorry the holiday season is something you feel like you need to “survive.” Sadly, this is the mindset of most.
That’s because our society tells us we need to cook the best dinners, host the best parties, and buy the best gifts. Newsflash: this time of year has nothing to do with any of those things. Rather than striving to please others, remember that this time of year is a season to enjoy.
Although making it through the holidays stress-free is seemingly impossible, there are ways to lessen your stress and enjoy this special time of year! If your to-do list already has you pulling your hair out, don’t fear! Here are six ways to stay sane through the end of the year:
Learn to Say No
There is always going to be pressure to say yes. Yes to that dinner party invitation. Yes to that Black Friday deal you just can’t pass up. Yes to your mother, because how could you possibly say no to her? But here’s the truth—every single thing you say yes to means you say no to something else.
For example, if you say yes to that dinner party invitation, which if you are being honest, your schedule doesn’t allow, you are saying no to a much needed night in, extra sleep, or simply the ability to rest and recharge in your PJs.
The pressure to say yes only builds during the holiday season. There are more familial obligations, hot bargains to be had, and holiday parties to attend. But for for the sake of your sanity, learn that it is okay and healthy to say no.
When the next choice arises, ask yourself these three questions:
- Do I have the physical capacity to take this on?
- Do I have the emotional capacity to take this on?
- Do I have the financial capacity to take this on?
If you answer no to any of these questions, you have your answer.
Take a Sabbath
Historically, taking a Sabbath means observing a day of rest from work. During the craziness of the holiday season, taking a Sabbath may not be a bad idea. As humans, we have limits. We were designed to rest. In fact, one day of rest a week may just be what we need to stay sane through December 31st.
When deciding that your Sabbath looks like, it doesn’t have to be a whole day. It can be one evening a week or a couple hours on a weekend morning. Once you’ve decided when your sabbath will be, then set the parameters for what your sabbath looks like. During the holidays, perhaps your sabbath means absolutely no shopping, cooking, or holiday planning for one whole day each week. Maybe it means taking a break from social media for an afternoon. The key here is to identify what activities cause you stress and then vow to not do them on your sabbath.
The key is to establish your sabbath and then protect it! Even if only for this season.
- Get your sleep
Did you know your sleep is most likely to suffer during the holidays? In fact, it’s the stress and anxiety brought on by this time of year that’s to blame. The worst part is that troubled sleep only leads to more stress. Yikes, what a pickle.
While there are short-term consequences of lost sleep such as, forgetfulness (aka burning the Christmas cookies), difficulty focusing, irritability, and grogginess, there are more serious long-term effects of sleep deprivation. Some of which include an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. All this to say, it’s important to protect your sleep.
Sleep is so important you might even consider gifting it for Christmas. Your mom already has a thousand candles but I bet she’d die for better shut-eye. Whether that means gifting her a relaxing night to herself or actually purchasing her a new mattress (because let’s face it, hers is probably 20 years old), we often underestimate just how valuable a good night of sleep can be for our physical, mental and emotional health. My advice to you—don’t only prioritize sleep this season, consider gifting it to others.
P.S. Did you know mattresses now come compressed and rolled in a box? AMAZING. Who would have thought you could actually wrap a mattress?!
Call in your confidant
When stress gets a hold of you, it’s very easy to get worked up quickly, even at the littlest of things. If there is a situation you can’t get passed, work through it with your confidant whether that’s your mom, sister, or best friend. Verbally processing your emotions may help you move on. It will definitely prevent the situation from getting blown out of proportion later on. God only knows, no one wants to sit through a tense Thanksgiving dinner.
Did you know deep breathing is proven to lower blood pressure and reduce your heart rate? That’s because mindful meditation promotes a relaxation response in your body that calms you.
When you find yourself in a frenzied panic or overwhelmed by all your to-dos, stop and breathe. Inhale for four counts and exhale for eight. Do this five times or until you feel yourself calming down.
Find a moment of stillness each day
Speaking of feeling overwhelmed, finding a moment to be still each day helps combat feelings of stress. In fact, being still helps center your mind and body in the present moment rather than getting caught up in all you have to do.
Contrary to popular belief, you can find stillness just about anywhere. Perhaps it’s on your morning commute. All you have to do is turn off the radio. Maybe it’s sitting in the silence of the morning with a cup of coffee in your hand. It might even be stepping away from your desk for 10 minutes to go on a short walk.
No matter where it may be, keep your mind focused on the present moment and resist the urge to let your mind wander a million directions. If you find this difficult, bring awareness to your breath or the weight of your own body. Even five minutes of stillness is more valuable than you think.
Hopefully these tips allow you to enjoy this time of the year rather than survive it. Above all, don’t forget why you are doing the things you are doing—because you love your family, you understand the importance of community, and your realize how blessed you are. Don’t let the busyness of the holidays bury the meaning of the season.