As the holiday season quickly approaches, your mental to-do list is already growing. Meals, decorations, parties, gifts, and more all run through your head. This plunge into busyness and hectic schedules doesn’t need to ruin what is supposed to be a joyous time of year. Jennifer Wegmann, a Health and Wellness lecturer at Binghamton University, State University of New York, has some tips to help you avoid holiday stress and enjoy the season.
Step into the moment
Don’t get caught in a holiday whirlwind, moving so quickly you can’t enjoy any of it. Lose the constant worry about what’s next and the preoccupation with finding just the right gift or presenting the perfect holiday feast. Would have, could have, should have can destroy your holiday season. Instead, be mindful and present. Choose to be intentionally present and mindful. Breathing exercises are a great way to ground you and let you enjoy the moment. Although simple, a very effective breathing exercise is stopping to take a few deep, diaphragm-filling breaths. So next time you find your mind fixating on your to-do list, take a deep breath and look at the good things in your life.
Adopt an attitude of gratitude
There is great power in gratitude. Holiday worries and busyness can cloud and clutter our brains, so we forget what we have that we are thankful for. Gratitude is choosing to look for good in life both in and outside of ourselves. Taking time to practice gratitude has been linked to a more positive outlook on life, better sleep, and less psychological pain. Practicing gratitude can look different for different people, so whether you journal or post gratitude pictures, find what works for you. In these next months, make sure you set aside time to think about the people and things for which you are grateful. Consider expressing that gratitude to others in your life.
Set healthy boundaries
The holidays often have nearly unlimited opportunities and potential commitments. Parties, concerts, work events, school events, gifts – the list is endless. During this season, it is healthy and necessary to set boundaries. This will help protect your physical and mental health, while maintaining the important relationships and connections in your life. Before the season swings into full gear, take some time to reflect on what’s most important for you during the holidays. Focus on those things and give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to the extras. You can be kind and considerate while still being firm and decisive. Try to aim for middle ground that allows you to connect with friends, family, and coworkers without getting burned out from all the holiday festivities.
With these three tips you can make the holidays more enjoyable and stress free. However, these practices don’t have to stop with the final holiday party. Take these simple steps to create more balance and health in your life year round.