Ah, the holidays — a season full of relaxing, time off work, laughter, gifts, parties and happy family and friends, right? But did you know the holiday season is actually one of the most mentally and physically stressful seasons? All the details, expectations and real life on top of it — balancing too much work, not enough money and demanding relationships. By the time the holidays actually arrive, you’re already exhausted. Here are some ideas to help you relax and truly enjoy the holiday season.
Gift yourself some free time.
Don’t overschedule. You know how crazy you can get trying to keep up with everything. Stop, take a deep breath and relax. Build it into your calendar to set aside the chores and take time for yourself. Catch a favorite movie, go for a long walk, take a bubble bath, have coffee with a friend or curl up with a good read. Your “me time” doesn’t have to take long, but it should be scheduled frequently.
Set a budget.
A second major source of holiday stress is money. Budgeting your expenses is important — don’t overspend or use your credit cards. It can take up to four months to pay off holiday debt. Assign a dollar amount to everyone on your gift list and stick to it. To make sure you don’t go over your limit, put each individual’s cash amount into a separate envelope before you go shopping. When the envelope cash is gone, you’re done shopping for them. Moving forward, make a resolution to set up a monthly savings account every January just for gift giving. You won’t miss the money as much when you take it out along the way, and you won’t go into debt during the holiday season.
Ask for help.
If you’re a working parent, you probably already feel there’s too much to do. Stop and delegate some chores to your kids, spouse or partner. They can be easy chores like grocery shopping, cleaning the house, walking the dog or sending out holiday cards. It’s everyone’s holiday. Let them know the best gift they can give you is their help, so you can relax a bit and enjoy the season too.
Eat well to feel well.
Go ahead and enjoy a big, rich holiday meal, but just don’t eat that way every day. A lot of tempting holiday foods are high in fats, carbs and sugar. Add alcohol and your energy is gone. You’ll feel tired and run down, and it will be even harder to tame the holiday stress monster. Eat more frequent, smaller, healthier meals on a daily basis, and have a light, healthy snack before you go to a party. You won’t be as hungry by the time you get to the event. Plus, it will be easier for you to limit your servings of all the holiday goodies.