Helpful Tips And Tricks To Stay Sane This Holiday Season:
Ah, the time has arrived of gift giving, hot chocolate, holiday decorations, parties, and holiday stress. This can be a wonderful time of year to spend with friends, family, and coworkers.
There can definitely be a positive vibe to this time of year. At the same time, there are also some stress-inducing things that can come with this time of year.
How are you feeling about the holidays coming up? Do you celebrate Christmas, Hannukah (which was early this year!), Kwanzaa, or maybe just ring in this time of year with some non-denominational holiday spirit of your own?
It can be helpful to check in with yourself during this time of year, because things can start to come up quickly, and before you know it, it’s the day before Christmas Eve and you haven’t bought any gifts yet! Wait- don’t freak out yet. That’s why we’re getting started now, so we can avoid the pandemonium later.
Causes of Holiday Stress:
So what can be stress-inducing during the holidays? Check out my list below for some examples:
All of these things are made even more stressful by the fact that they occur in a small time-frame- usually between Thanksgiving until after New Year’s Day.
How Can I Deal With All Of These Things At Once?
Maybe reading my list made you feel even more stressed and overwhelmed. That’s good. You are on the first step towards reducing that stress by just realizing that it is making you feel stressed!
Keep reading on for my actionable tips to help you get a handle on this overwhelm and enter the holiday festivities with a renewed sense of calm.
Step 1: Write Down Your Stressors
I encourage you to make a list of things that are stressful for you personally during this time of year. Getting it down on paper is a way of getting it out of your head and helping you feel more control.
After you have made this list, break it down into what you do have control over, and what you do not.
*Download my free printable for a step-by-step worksheet to help you complete these steps more easily!
Step 2: Cope With The Things You Cannot Control
When it comes to what you do not have control over, it can help to come up with ways to cope with these things. Write down how you plan to cope with these things next to each of them.
Example: Increased traffic -> I have no control over this -> I will take deep breaths while in the car and listen to music I enjoy.
Some scenarios can be hard to come up with ways to deal with them, especially if you really really don’t want to deal with them.
Dealing With Difficult Family Members:
For example, if you have to deal with difficult family members during the holidays, it can definitely be stressful. There are some things that you cannot avoid, and this may be one of them. Coming up with a plan of action and acceptance beforehand can be crucial to help you navigate this successfully.
First, identify if there are ways to limit interactions with this person/people if at all possible if you know things are not going to end well.
Secondly, distract yourself with other things or people. Bring along a significant other or friend if possible so that you don’t have to face an uncomfortable Uncle/Cousin/Grandmother on your own.
Third, prep yourself with some positive self-talk beforehand.
“I only have to see this person once a year and I’m going to make the best of it.”
“They are only mean to me because they are unhappy themselves/it is just their personality/they are old and crotchety, and it is nothing personal against me.”
“This will all be over soon enough…”
Attending A Work Party:
Another example might be attending a work event or other potentially anxiety-provoking party. Having to mingle with people you only have a professional relationship with can be uncomfortable.
Here are some tips:
- Stick with a coworker/friend that you feel comfortable with
- Use this as an opportunity to get to know people better! If you are concerned about saying the right thing, stick with asking other people questions. People love talking about themselves, and it will show that you really have an interest in them!
- Do not get too drunk if there is alcohol. Please, don’t. It may help you to loosen up (a little bit is okay), but you definitely do NOT want to be the person who could not hold their liquor. People will definitely be talking about you at the water cooler the next day.
- Identify and stop your negative, self-doubting thoughts before you enter the door. If you have thoughts such as: “I’m not good at small talk.” “I’m going to embarrass myself.” “This is going to be a drag.” “I don’t like anybody here.” -or any other limiting, negative beliefs- please check them at the door. They will absolutely influence your ability to enjoy the event and set you up for a bad time. Your beliefs are your reality- so make some tweaks to influence more positivity into your life.
The Kids Are On Break From School, Now What?
Lastly, kids and young adults will be on break from school during this time of year. This can introduce a disruption to the typical schedule of dropping them off at school, or having them away at college.
This is a good time to schedule interactive activities in order to get them to be more productive, and improve relationships within the family.
Try decorating the tree and house together, making a gingerbread house or cookies, going ice skating, or watching holiday movies as a family.
Instead of viewing this as an increased stressor, try to make the best of it through enjoyable activities you can do as a family.
Step 3: Write The First Action Step For The Things That You Can Control
Next, you are going to focus on what you do have control over. I want you to take these things and write down the first step you plan on doing to work on it. That’s it- only the first step!
Make this step something small that can be done in 30 minutes or less. Do not make the first step: buy Christmas presents for my entire family. That is not a first step, that is an entire, time-consuming task.
Example: Buying gifts for my family -> I do have control over this -> I will start by making a list of who I need to buy gifts for, and what my budget is for each person.
The reason I want you to focus on only the first step is because you cannot get to step two if you do not complete step one. Starting at the beginning will help you feel less overwhelmed.
Step 4: Prioritize Your Tasks
Next, break down these “control” items into a list of which is most important in descending order.
You can start with the most time-sensitive task, the one that will require the most time overall, or the one that you absolutely must get done.
This may seem simple, but this can help you look at things with fresh eyes and make it so that things actually get done.
Step 5: Take A Deep Breath
Seriously, do it right now. Take a deep breath through your nose, all the way down to your belly, and then out through your mouth. You can do this. You will do this.
Remember that the most important thing is not just “getting things done.” The most important thing is how you do these things. If you approach your tasks with stress and anxiety, that is how you will feel afterwards- stressed and anxious.
However, if you are able to have a more mindful and slow approach, you will feel more calm and less rushed afterwards. Heck, you may even enjoy the process of what had previously been just “getting things done!”
When you feel ready, start with step one of task one and take it from there.
If you want to dive even deeper into planning out these tasks, definitely download my worksheet below. And check out my self-care tips if you need more advice for coping with stress.
The holidays can be exciting and magical. Please take the time to focus on the things that bring you joy during this season, and know that you will always be able to cope with the things that stress you out. You’ve done it before!
Let me know in the comments below: what stresses you out during the holidays and how do you cope with it?