Although it can be such a fun and wonderful time for some, we know that the endless parties, meal planning, gift buying, and dealing with some of our not-so-favorite family members can be a serious source of stress during the holidays. But you already know, we got you beautiful. Read on for 5 ways to cope with stress and anxiety this holiday season. And while we can’t guarantee this list will keep your Aunt Barbara from having that annoying laugh after one too many drinks, we can bet that you’ll be better equipped to deal with it.
No one loves the holidays more than us. Between the peppermint lattes and chilling with the Christmas tree lights on, there really is no time of year more magical. It doesn't matter whether you live in a warm or cold climate. The month of December just seems to bring about cozier comforting vibes.
Now, we understand if reading all of the above sounds just a *little* too optimistic to you. If all that comes to mind when you think of the holidays is the never-ending shopping and food prep you’ll have to do: we get you, and we're here to help.
Make alone time a priority to minimize stress and anxiety
Even though this is likely the busiest time of year for so many of us, we can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to make alone time a priority. Trust us, baking sugar cookies can wait (unless that is your way of unwinding of course!).
What about making a long (or short!) bath a part of your nightly routine? Throw in some bath bombs in there while you’re at it, and just unwind! Or commit to reading a few chapters of one of those bestsellers that’s been sitting on your nightstand forever – you need these little moments to stay sane.
The benefits of spending alone time go far beyond minimizing stress, which we think makes it worth practicing in itself. However, we thought we’d let you know that enjoying a little solitude also helps to improve concentration, and boost your productivity.
What’s more, carving out regular time with little old you is a great way to get to know yourself better and be that confident goddess we know you are.
If you’re a planner, this will totally work for you. When you’re mapping out your day in the morning, ask yourself where you can fit in some me time. Even if you only have 20 minutes to dedicate, take it. Could you go for a jog at lunch? Do you have time to grab a coffee with your bestie in the afternoon? Or to simply give her a call for some girl talk? Or could you squeeze in a quick pedi between holiday gift shopping for the fam?
All these little things absolutely count as me time. And although they may not seem like much, they can act as serious stress alleviators during a time where we are constantly on go mode.
Say no to a packed, anxiety inducing holiday season
Start by laying out all your holiday plans on paper.
Seriously, jot down every dinner or gathering you need to attend in a calendar type template, times and locations included. This way, you can really see what’s ahead of you. Once this is done, you’ve gotta be a little selfish. We know this is hard for so many of you babes! But believe us when we tell you, we would not be recommending this if it wasn’t for your own good!
Assess where you could cut back on travel time and outings that are maybe, well a *little* unnecessary. Holiday drink party at your cousin’s place when you’ll be seeing all the same people on Christmas Eve at mom’s? Decide where to make the cut. Especially during these pandemic days where not everyone feels the safest leaving their homes often. Your family and friends will understand your need to cut back, and if they don’t – that’s not on you, babe.
Enjoy the benefits of not having everywhere to go. You’ll quickly notice how great the holiday season can really be.
After all, did you really spend hours decorating your living room to not bask in all its Christmas glory a few times a week?
Schedule time to exercise
Hear us out. Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t. These are the wise, immortal words of Elle Woods, and we can’t argue with her there.
And the benefits do not stop there, friends. Scheduling time to exercise can definitely help curb that irritating holiday weight gain (it happens to all of us!). It can also help those of us who sometimes suffer from seasonal depression. And of course, it can significantly help with reducing holiday stress.
We know scheduling time to exercise might sound like a stretch this time of year. Especially when you’re knee-deep in Christmas cookies and serving up cocktails at holiday gatherings. But the truth is, your body and your mind will thank you. Even if it's only incorporating a 20-minute workout a few times a week during this chaotic time.
You can get out for a short walk, or pull up a quick YouTube workout to sweat it out in your basement! And you'll see, you will be much less likely to snap on your self-proclaimed parenting expert friend if those endorphins are flowing. Plus, why wait for those pesky “New Years' resolutions” to make working out a part of your weekly routine?
And hold up a second, don’t forget! Scheduling exercise certainly counts as me time. So go ahead, consider this another idea for idea number 1 of our 5 ways to cope with anxiety and stress this holiday season.
Choose where to spend your energy wisely
Even though we think all of our 5 ways to cope with stress and anxiety this holiday season are great, this one stands out to us because it is applicable at any time of the year.
For the lucky some of us, we love spending time with everyone in our circle during the holidays.
We know that isn't the case for everyone, and we’re all about keeping it real. That being said, if there are aspects of Christmas dinner you do not look forward to such as socializing with difficult family members, or participating in one too many secret Santa’s, keep reading.
There is always a high road to take when it comes to complicated relationships. Or, in cases of events, we don’t want to be at but need to be at. We know there are some gatherings you can easily “x” out of your busy holiday calendar. But some others, you simply can’t get out of. Take a deep breath. You can definitely use these small tips and tricks to avoid stressing about any event. Practicing some of these will also definitely contribute to keeping your anxiety levels at bay.
Read the room. Not down to sit beside your dear mother-in-law during all of Christmas dinner?
Play little musical chairs after the meal is over. Ho about catching up with your niece you haven’t seen in what feels like forever? You can always gracefully excuse yourself when you feel your energy being negatively affected. The trick is to notice when this is happening. If you feel yourself getting agitated, pull back. Heck, go see what the guys are discussing in the garage! Anything to remove yourself from any situations that do not serve you.
This also goes for gatherings where you can decide whether to attend or not. If you can get out of a dinner that just thinking of attending gives you anxiety, do it. Of course decline these invites politely, and in a timely way, but after that: ditch the guilt girl.
If sitting with a face mask on your face as you craft it up or scrapbook is your idea of spreading holiday cheer go right ahead. You do you, boo boo.
Skip the holidays altogether
We might have saved the most extreme for last. But to be honest, this isn’t so extreme if it makes you or your immediate family happy.
Although you might not be in a position to spend Christmas on the beach this year, you can still choose to curl up and watch the Kranks do it, glass of wine in hand.
Or maybe you can decide to take a short hour or two drive outside of your town to spend the holidays in a far away from it all cabin. Create your own new traditions, and avoid the old ones that ultimately do not sit well with you anymore.
We can’t speak for you. But if opting for no big holiday hoopla altogether helps you feel at peace this holiday season, we say do it.
Now, we totally acknowledge that some of you are already choosing to skip the holidays due to our new COVID-19 world. And some of you might be sad about it, we feel for you guys too. Try to schedule a FaceTime or Zoom call with the fam during your Christmas feasts, or a simple phone call. Anything to feel connected to those you love during these unprecedented times.
Final Thoughts … (breathe in, breathe out)
We hope our list of 5 ways to cope with stress and anxiety this holiday season gave you some solid pointers on how to keep yourself sane and happy this Christmas.
The holidays do not have to be a source of pressure! It’s just really up to you to make that choice, and make the shift towards a more stress free holiday season that serves you and your needs.
Maybe you start small this year by skipping out on one too many gift exchanges. Or, you forego the long list of baked goods you wanted to make. If giving up a few of these holiday traditions that cause you stress and unwanted feelings of obligation makes you happier, we're all for it.
And hey, it might actually make you appreciate watching Home Alone with your kids while chowing down on those (store-bought or not!) gingerbread men.
So here's the thing. Whether you decide to opt for some moments of self-care this holiday season, or skip the anxiety-inducing extravagant gifts – you do what’s best for you and yours. Your BBE fam loves ya.