Tips for Managing Holiday Stress

Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed? For most of us, that is no surprise at this time of year. From Halloween thru Thanksgiving, and then on to the commercial overload of holiday parties and shopping, I hear more about the stresses of the holidays than the joy of them.
People feel the need to entertain, plan vacations, buy gifts, cook, and bake, and on top of that – see family! But if you are at your wit’s end, and can’t even see that last item on your “to-do” list, try some of the following recommendations so that you can end up happy and healthy.
First, make sure you get enough sleep. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night and be consistent about when you get up. If you are struggling with things that pop into your head that you have to remember, leave a pad and pen on your night table, write it down, and put your head back on the pillow. And try to turn off your electronics at least one hour before bedtime.
Start your day with some relaxation and centering exercises. You can meditate, do yoga, do stretches, and engage in mindful visualizations. Start your day cool and calm and you have a better chance of ending it that way.
Don’t feel that you have to compete with your neighbors, friends, or in-laws. It is more important to have a warm family event with good food, than a gourmet meal that stresses you out just cooking it. Keep the menu simple and invite the family to help with set-up and clean-up. Need to buy some portions of the meal? Go ahead and do it. Your guests should be there to be with family and friends, not for the food.
Don’t self-medicate with alcohol. It is easy at this time of year to reach for that extra glass of wine. But it won’t take the stress away and is just a temporary, and perhaps unhealthy, solution. Instead of wine or liquor, reach for an extra glass of water and try to stay hydrated when you are busy running around.
Remember that when you feel stressed, it is a message from your body that you have taken on too much, physically and emotionally. So think of the holidays as the slow winding down of the year and the gentle kick-off for 2023. We’ve made it through Covid and are looking forward to a new normal. Start New Year’s Day with a gentle and quiet celebration with those you love, either friends or family and think of it as a healthy way to begin a kinder and healthier year.