Managing Holiday Stress

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The holidays can be a source of anxiety and stress for many. If you’re in the corporate world, you probably lead a stressful life. Adding holiday stressors to the equation can put you over the edge.

Despite how crazy life can be during this time of the year, there are certain things you can do to manage holiday burnout.

  1. Stay active. You may be thinking, I’m too busy to workout. I’m not suggesting you go to the gym every day. However, if you enjoy the gym, schedule a workout first thing in the morning, on your lunch hour, or after work. Studies show that staying active reduces stress and improves mental clarity. If a workout isn’t feasible, think about how you can incorporate more steps into your day. Park farther away in the parking lot. This goes for grocery stores, shopping malls, and workplace garages. Stop trying to find the perfect parking space within a few steps of the front door. It’s the holidays. The likelihood of this happening is slim to none. Driving around in circles, waiting for someone to vacate the perfect parking spot, not only wastes time but is stressful. You have better things to do. By the time you’ve parked at the back of the parking lot and walked to the entrance, you’ll have saved time, eliminated frustration, and added steps. Always take the stairs when possible.
  2. Limit time with friends and family members that suck the life out of you. That may sound harsh, but the harsher reality is how you’ll feel being in their presence for hours on end. The good news, the holidays are a busy time for everyone. Stating that you’re busy or only have a short window of time to be together is reality. If you can avoid them all together, even better. A polite “I’d love to, but I already have plans” will suffice.
  3. Set boundaries. This pertains to all commitments, not just to certain individuals. Pick and choose the social gatherings that are most important to you. Politely decline the rest. It’s okay! No one will think less of you. Quite frankly, they’ll probably not notice, as they’ll be focused on what they’re doing.
  4. Schedule time for self-care. Even if you’re working 80 hours/week, schedule time to take a hot bath or shower, meditate, read a chapter of a book, journal, watch your favorite holiday movie, take a short walk to enjoy the holiday lights, or listen to your favorite music. I’m not talking hours at a time. It can be a 15-30 minute break when time permits. The key is to completely check out for that period of time. Don’t check your phone, don’t watch the news, and don’t scroll on social media. Just be. Yes, that may sound scary, but do it anyway. It will become easier the more you do it. You’ll thank me!
  5. Let go of the perfectionist mindset. Not everyone is a Hyper-Achiever. If you are, you totally get where I’m coming from. The house has to be spotless. The holiday cards have to be mailed by December 1st. The house must be completely decorated the day after Thanksgiving. The perfect gifts must be beautifully wrapped and placed under the tree. STOP! It’s exhausting! Nobody’s perfect. Let it go! Focus on one or two things. Do them well, and let the rest go.
  6. Money is one of the top holiday stressors. If you’re on a budget, suggest drawing names, forgoing a gift exchange, or making a donation to a favorite charity. Even if money is not a factor, most individuals will relish these suggestions as they require less time and effort. This equates to less stress.

The holidays come once a year. Take the focus off the “must-do’s” and center your attention on what truly matters…the reason for the season and spending time with loved ones.

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