*This post has been edited; it was originally published on November 19, 2018.
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
But it can also be the most stressful!
Cooking, cleaning, shopping, hosting, driving and traveling all contribute to the holiday stress we experience during these winter months.
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to make sure you can enjoy this holiday season without getting overwhelmed.
Here are 5 simple tips to reduce your holiday stress:
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1. Stick to Your Budget
One of the first things that comes to mind when I think of holiday stress is finances.
In a recent Gallup poll, Americans revealed that they planned to spend an average of $830 on gifts. But last year U.S. shoppers racked up an average of $1,054 in debt during the holiday season – that could take months to pay off!
To reduce holiday stress this season, set a budget and stick to it.
Make a list of everyone you will be getting gifts for and decide how much you want to spend on each gift as well as how much you will spend on decorations and food.
Using a credit card makes it easy to overspend, so when you go shopping, consider bringing the exact amount with you in cash to ensure that you don’t go over your predetermined budget.
Another thing to budget wisely is your time. There are a lot of dinners and parties and events during the holiday season and sometimes you just can’t do it all.
Don’t over-commit yourself – be prepared to say no. You may have to leave early or politely decline some invitations to ensure that you can actually enjoy the holidays.
2. Prepare and Let Go
Preparation goes a long way when it comes to reducing holiday stress.
If you’re hosting a holiday dinner, plan your meal and prepare what dishes you can in advance to avoid having to do everything the day-of. Maybe you could even ask your guests to bring their own prepared dishes and make it pot luck!
Don’t leave cleaning until Christmas or the day of the event. You always wind up having less time than you thought you would have. So, start a few days out and maybe tackle a room or two each day.
Also, fighting through massive crowds of people at the last minute frantically trying to find gifts for everyone on your list is no fun. That’s why I like to shop online.
You can even buy some “one size fits all” gifts like gift cards in advance. That way, you have a stash of gifts and you don’t have to worry about running out to find something at the last minute.
Just remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect. So, prepare as best you can … and then let go.
3. Continue Your Self-Care
It’s important to keep up your healthy habits during the holiday season. Diet and exercise can have a huge impact on your mood and energy levels.
Because there’s so much going on, it can be easy to let your routines slip but maintaining your health will go a long way towards reducing holiday stress.
Consider making a DIY self-care box for anxiety that you can open whenever you're feeling overwhelmed.
Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruit and vegetables. Foods like spinach and avocados help in the production of serotonin and dopamine, which help to keep you calm and happy.
Eating just a handful of nuts each day will help you to maintain a balanced mood. Almonds contain B vitamins which helps to keep your energy levels stable – as opposed to candy, pastries or anything with refined sugar, which will only give you a quick pick-me-up followed by a sugar crash.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t have Christmas goodies though, that would be torture! Indulge, just make sure you eat the healthy stuff too, so your body gets all the nutrients it needs.
Also, don’t slack on your workouts … ain’t nobody got time for holiday weight gain!
Even if you don’t normally exercise then walking, yoga, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation can really help to soothe anxiety and reduce holiday stress.
4. Boost Your Immune System
Getting sick can be a huge source of holiday stress. A cold or the flu can sometimes linger for weeks, causing you to miss out on all the exciting festivities you had planned.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your risk of getting sick. Some of my favorites are eating healthy, juicing and Essential Oils.
I got into juicing a couple years ago and I haven’t gotten sick since. It has helped me so much with literally everything. Headaches, low energy, cramps, stress, everything.
You can find tons of juice recipes online, but you can also just experiment with making your own. I’ve come up with some delicious juices using what I had in the house (my favorite ingredients are carrots, spinach, kale, lemon, ginger, beet and green apple).
If you’re looking for a juicer, check out the Breville Juice Fountain Plus. It’s the one I use. It does an excellent job and it’s not crazy expensive like some of the other ones out there.
Another way to avoid getting sick (and to avoid holiday stress) is with immune-booster essential oils. You can pop these delightful blends into a diffuser, roll them on your body, make them into a room spray, drop them into your bath or just smell them straight out of the bottle!
5. Practice Gratitude
Finally, remember what the holidays are all about.
Regardless of what religion you practice, the holiday season is a time to be joyful, spread kindness and express gratitude for all the wonderful things you have.
Oftentimes, we get overwhelmed trying to get all the gifts and go to all the parties and make everything “perfect”.
That’s not what is important. Cultivating a sense of gratitude can help to keep things in perspective and lessen holiday stress.
Think of something that you are deeply grateful for in your life. It will likely remind you that whatever’s stressing you out is not that serious.
One way to practice gratitude is to keep a gratitude journal. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal:
Once or twice a week, write down five things (or people) you are grateful for. Think about how different your life would be without them and elaborate on why you are grateful for them.
Continue to do this all the time, not just during the holiday season.
Regular practice of gratitude will increase your resilience to stress and help you to maintain a peaceful, optimistic attitude.
*Here are some more gratitude journal prompts & activities for you to try!
So, there you have it - my five simple tips to reduce holiday stress!
Do you have any tips I didn’t mention? Leave a comment!
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