The holidays are in the air—and with them, stress is in the air. Unless you are somehow super human—and I most certainly am not—you are likely already beginning to feel the crunch. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, lights to put up, cookies to bake, and family gathering to plan. And we love it. We do. Except, of course, that it’s not always a picnic. So, the question isn’t really how we avoid stress over the holidays, but how we best manage it. With that in mind, and in the spirit of holiday giving, today I’d like to share my favorite ways of lessening the stress that is surely already nipping at your heels.
- Get a Massage – There are few activities that offer as many health and wellness benefits (including stress relief!) as massage. I know you are already over scheduled, but if there is any one thing you can do to put your physical and emotional well-being first, it’s massage. If you can squeeze it in, DO SO!
- Don’t Skip Your Next Run – One of the very best things you can do for your body—not to mention your store of energy—is to get your blood pumping. Unfortunately, when we are overscheduled and stressed, it’s often one of the first things we skip. This season, don’t. In fact, if you can manage ramping up your workout schedule, consider doing so. Exercise not only helps you sleep better and maintain your energy level throughout the day, but it may help you stave off a couple of those dreaded holidays pounds.
- Take Some “You Time” – I certainly am not the first person to suggest that we all need some “Me Time” on occasion. Even amidst the most challenging schedules, most of us have the ability to fit in a few extra minutes to ourselves. If you can’t schedule a massage or a long run, try spending ten minutes in a quiet room with nothing more than a warm cup of tea. Sometimes the tiniest bit of mindfulness can work wonders.
- Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself – I hate to torture this cliché, but it holds too much truth not to: We are our own worst critics. Last year, I burned three batches of cookies, forgot to wrap at least two gifts, and ordered my husband’s new stocking too late (it didn’t arrive in time for Santa). Often, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to let ourselves fail without fear of our own reprisal. Let a mistake or two go this season. You can’t undo them, and we all make them. Laugh them off, take a deep breath, and move your cheery holiday self on.
- Say No – It feels good to please people. I get it. I really do. I say yes to so many people that I end up occasionally disappointing both them and me. If you can’t make that extra apple pie, share in the turkey responsibilities, or participate in the voluntary Secret Santa, it’s okay—in fact, it’s admirable—to simply say so. I think you’ll find that there is far less judgment than you might think.
The long and short of it is this: YOU ARE NOT SUPER HUMAN. Be yourself, make a few mistakes, take time when you need it, and be good to your body and your spirit. The holidays can be stressful, but you, friend, can control a percentage of that stress. I recommend doing so.