Between cooking, planning, preparing, shopping, wrapping and cleaning up, this is by far the most stressful time of the year for most of us (April, tax time, is probably second). ‘Tis the season to be jolly, they say, but when you’ve got a to-do list that’s three pages long, you may want to dive headfirst into a hole and not come out until mid-January. Fear not: the Springs Apartments team has gathered some useful tips that’ll keep you calm and help you carry on all holiday long:
1. Take a deep breath
Any time you feel overwhelmed or can’t seem to concentrate, take a long, deep breath. Among the benefits of this simple technique, according to Livestrong.com, are a reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. Deep breathing also promotes better blood flow, releases toxins from the body and aids in healthy sleep.
2. Schedule time to do nothing at all
It’s okay to plop yourself on the couch, put your feet up and watch a favorite show every now and then. In fact, time that’s not assigned to a “to-do” task gives both your mind and body time to rest and recharge. If TV doesn’t do it for you, try an afternoon at a spa, a massage, a movie…or a nap.
3. Shop online
Buying gifts is almost a “must” this time of year, but you can avoid the crazy mall traffic and crowds by doing your buying online. If you decide you need a little of that retail hustle ‘n’ bustle to get in the holiday spirit, pick one afternoon (choose a weekday) and shop for gifts you just can’t get online, or for those that help support local businesses.
4. Overbooking equals overwhelming
If you sign up for every event available to you over the holidays – concerts, cookie exchanges, shopping dates, dinners, parties and more – by the end of the season you’ll be completely exhausted. Pick two or three that you genuinely enjoy and stick to those.
5. Learn to say no
“No thank you, but I’m flattered that you asked,” should be your holiday mantra. When your cousin asks you to do a last-minute craft project, your coworker wants to see the latest movie or your best friend encourages you to get involved in a holiday play, just say no. You can do it nicely simply by telling the truth: you’ve got too much on your plate for it to be enjoyable.
6. Drinking, eating and nightlife: everything in moderation.
It’s hard to avoid rich foods, alcohol and late nights this time of year, but going overboard on any of them can tire you out and quash your energy level. Eat smart with only occasional indulgences, get your 8 hours sleep every night, and certainly don’t drink to excess (and don’t drink at all if you’re driving).
7. Don’t overspend
If you go beyond the budget you’ve set for holiday gifts and entertainment, you’re going to suffer some real anxiety when those bills start to arrive next month. Stick to your limits and start off the year without the burden of extra debt. If you don’t feel you can afford to buy all the gifts you want to give, find other ways to show you care, like creating “coupons” your recipient can redeem for things like, “one home-cooked spaghetti & meatballs dinner,” “a picnic lunch and disc golf at the local park of your choice,” or “free dog sitting for 2 nights.”
One of the best bits of advice we’ve heard related to holiday stress is the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” So if your presents don’t have bows, your candy didn’t harden, your shoes aren’t the right shade of red and your couch has a big new stain…it’s okay. Focus on all the wonderful things about the season, especially one another, and let the little, relatively unimportant things go.