5 Ways to decrease stress and increase fun during the holidays 

I had a great chat with Dana Leipold of Third Act Wellness that inspired this blog- you can watch the replay here!

When you think of the holidays what comes to mind? A house full of wreaths, garlands, and sparkling lights? Children’s laughter while eating perfectly decorated cookies? Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Bussing your family from one event to another in holiday traffic? Feeling guilty because you ate too much or hangry because you didn’t eat anything?   If the perfect picture of the holidays isn’t matching up with your real life and it’s totally bumming you out or worse, stressing you out, it may be time to release your expectations and pick up some new self-care tools. 

5 Ways to Decrease your Grinch factor during the holidays 

We’ve all been there. The moment when making decisions is impossible, everyone irritates us, and we feel like everything is spiraling into chaos. When we find ourselves on this trajectory it is time to HALT and ask ourselves 

Am I Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired? Or maybe all 4? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to take care of you.

Start with the basics.  Eat food and drink water. Don’t walk around hangry- it’s no good for you and it certainly isn’t productive or fun for anyone else. If you’re angry, take steps to address the source of the anger and do what you can to clear it. If you are lonely, call a friend, cuddle with a pet, or go to a coffee shop and soak up some holiday cheer. If you are tired- take a nap or watch a replay of one of our Happy Hour Prep Mindfulness Exercises- you’d be surprised at how much clearer your mind will be and how much different the world will look after you HALT. 

Quit comparing and make a heart connection instead. 
How many hours have you spent on social media scrolling through other people’s perfect-holiday-life posts only to find yourself beating yourself up about how crummy your is? Or maybe you headed over to Pinterest with the intention of finding a fun activity for you and your family to enjoy together or some great decorating tips only to leave feeling defeated and overwhelmed? Or how about this one- you sit down with a cup of hot cocoa to watch a feel-good holiday movie but by the end of the movie you feel lonely and isolated? If any of these resonate with you, then it’s time to put them down and do something different.  

Instead of scrolling through Social Media, call a friend instead. If they don’t answer, leave them a message telling them how much you value your relationship or send them good wishes.  If you’re having a particularly low day, let them know that you would love to hear back from them. 

Instead of going to Pinterest, think back to simple projects that you used to do when you were a kid or enlist your kids to show you some of the things that they like. All you need to make snowflakes is a pair of scissors and any kind of paper- used or not! 

Instead of sitting down with that Hallmark movie that will leave you feeling sad and inadequate, sit down and create something of your own. Write a letter to yourself that you wish someone would write to you. Sing songs with your family, friends, or pets. Make your favorite cookies and eat them. Find a service project which you could give your time and talent to. 

If you don’t want to do something, don’t. 
Saying no can be particularly difficult for many of us. We want to take care of everyone else and make sure that they are having a good time and getting what they want while our energy reserves get depleted. Then we are surprised when we find ourselves irritable, resentful, exhausted, or physically sick. 

It’s important that you get to know your limits and respect them.  If you feel obligated to take on three parties in one day “that you just can’t miss because _____________________” then it’s time to pause and ask yourself- do I want to go? Do I have the energy for this? Am I feeling sick? Do I feel mad when I think about going? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, it’s time to put something down.  Politely decline. If you’ve already committed, let the host know that you will be unable to make it this time around, but you hope they have a great party. And remember, “No.” is a complete sentence. You never have to explain yourself to anyone- not even yourself! 

Give yourself the gift you want them to give you! 
No one is more deserving of getting what they want for the holidays than you are! So while you are out thoughtfully shopping for presents for them, pick up a present for yourself too. Have it wrapped and include a special message from yourself to yourself. You’d be amazed at how uplifting giving yourself a gift can be. It takes the pressure off everyone- and can clear the air of resentments too😊 

Approach the holidays with a new perspective 
The holidays aren’t always shiny and bright.  Sometimes they can be the most difficult time of the year. Especially if you’ve recently lost someone that you usually spend them with or have other life circumstances that move away from the way you traditionally celebrate the holidays. 

Or maybe your holidays have always been stressful because you have alcoholism, addiction, or mental illness in your family that influences your family gatherings. If that’s the case, approach the holidays with compassion for yourself and others. Release the idea that the holidays must be a certain way or on a certain day.  Find ways to celebrate that suit you and your current situation. Dig deep and decide what the holidays really mean to you. If you need some outside help or support, don’t hesitate to ask for it. 

There are so many ways to destress during the holidays-  But everyone is different- what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, so let’s take 5 minutes to discover what yours are. 

  • Set your timer for 5 minutes 
  • Take three nice deep breaths. Clear your mind as much as you can. Now write out the answer to this question:  What do you want more of in your holidays?
  • Take another deep breath and write out the answer to this question: What do you want less of in the holidays? 
  • And finally, one last deep clearing breath and then list 5 things that you could do (or not do) that would get you closer to your Happy Holiday? 

This is your personal best list! You may not be able to get to all 5 these things this year- but you could certainly take the first steps to infuse your holidays with a little more joy and a lot less stress.

PS: If you need outside support, don't hesitate to ask. Here are few great resources to turn to.

  • Warmlines 
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (Formerly National Suicide Prevention Hotline) 
  •  Alcoholics Anonymous 
  •  Al-Anon Family Groups  
  • Anxiety and Depression Association of America Support Group  


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