7 Tips For Coping With Holiday Stress
The holidays are a magical time to reconnect with loved ones, share food and laughter, and create memories with friends and family. However, the holiday season isn’t all fairy lights and sunny weather – it can also be incredibly stressful.
Whether you’re juggling endless holiday parties, struggling to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list, or dealing with loneliness or painful memories brought on by the season, holiday stress can affect your health and well-being.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way every year. Let’s look at a few simple yet effective ways to deal with holiday stress.
1. BE REALISTIC
There can be a lot of pressure to host the perfect party or find the perfect gift, but during the holiday season, it’s best not to be a perfectionist. Having unrealistically high standards or expectations can increase stress and lead to little to no enjoyment of the holidays and even feelings of failure.
If you struggle with holiday perfectionism, get to know your inner perfectionist and pay attention when you feel overwhelmed. Embrace the idea of the “imperfectly perfect” by challenging yourself to do things somewhat imperfectly. And, of course, remind yourself what the season is really about: being with people you care about, whether the situation is perfect or not.
2. EAT A BALANCED DIET
Prawns, ham, pavlova, endless sugary treats…everyone knows that holiday food is one of the best parts of the season. However, while you should certainly enjoy your share of holiday treats, completely neglecting a balanced diet can not only affect your energy levels, it can also contribute to feelings of stress. When stressed, you may be more likely to eat unhealthy foods, which can make you feel worse, beginning a vicious cycle.
Here are a few tips for eating to cope with stress:
- Eat your veggies: Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals like copper, zinc, manganese, and vitamins A, E, and C. These vitamins and minerals work to neutralise harmful molecules produced when your body is under stress
- Prioritise polyunsaturated fats: Early research shows that polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s may help to regulate cortisol levels.
- Eat regularly: Your brain needs glucose to function optimally. Eating regularly throughout the day helps keep your glucose levels stable and maintain energy when dealing with stressful events.
3. PRIORITISE EXERCISE
While the holidays are certainly a time to relax, prioritising exercise is one of the best things you can do to cope with holiday stress. Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators.
Here are a few simple ways you can stay active this holiday season:
- Go for a walk with friends or family
- Try a fun outdoor activity like cricket or swimming
- Follow an at-home guided workout on YouTube
4. TAKE A SUPPLEMENT FOR STRESS
Coping with holiday stress doesn’t need to be difficult; taking a quality stress supplement is one of the easiest ways to support your body and find relief.
Supplements are a great way to support the body’s ability to resist the effects of everyday stress. Not only can they help you better manage and alleviate occasional stress, but also help you to maintain a positive outlook.
5. PUT SLEEP FIRST
When stressed, getting adequate sleep is often one of the first things that goes, despite it being one of the most effective ways to cope with holiday stress.
Lack of sleep due to holiday stress or other causes increases stress levels. 45% of Australian adults with high stress levels said they feel even more stressed if they don’t get enough sleep.
Adults who sleep fewer than eight hours per night report higher stress levels than those who sleep at least eight hours a night.
Unfortunately, when you’re stressed, sleep can be elusive. Here are a few ways you can get better sleep even when you’re stressed:
- Maintain a strict sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is one of the best ways to support quality sleep. Try not to let holiday parties and family gatherings interfere with your bedtime.
- Write a to-do list before bed: Instead of lying awake in bed thinking about everything you need to do the next day, spend some time writing out a detailed to-do list before bed.
- Take a sleep supplement: Taking a quality sleep supplement is an easy and effective way to support your sleep, even when stressed.
6. LEARN HOW TO SAY NO
It’s common to want to please everyone during the holidays — to say yes to every party, gift exchange, and volunteer invitation. However, over-scheduling and overcommitting can lead to feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. As a result, you may become more irritable, frustrated, or less patient with yourself and others.
Saying “no” may be difficult at first, but maintaining personal boundaries can help you feel like yourself when you do attend events.
Here are some easy ways to say “no” during the holidays:
- “Thank you so much for thinking of me, but I can’t take that on at the moment.”
- “Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it, but I can’t wait to hear all about it later!”
- “I appreciate the invite, but I need a night to relax this week. Looking forward to seeing you soon!”
7. TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR SPENDING
Holiday stress and financial stress often go hand in hand. Parties, gifts, and holiday travel are part of the fun, but looming January bills can cause serious stress. Scaling back and sticking to a budget can make the holiday season and the months following more enjoyable.
Here are a few easy ways to reduce financial stress this holiday season:
- Set a budget for each person on your list: Before you go crazy with the credit card, set a dollar limit for each person on your gift list. And remember, stick to the list.
- Get creative: Homemade cookies or a donation on someone’s behalf can be just as thoughtful and meaningful as a store bought gift.
- Shop early or late: Shopping early can save you from impulse buying or marked-up prices. Or, wait for Boxing Day sales and give your gifts a little late!
SPREAD HOLIDAY CHEER
The holidays don’t have to be stressful. Prioritising exercise, a balanced diet, and sleep can make it a time of cheer rather than worry.
- Keeping healthy habits like prioritising exercise, eating a balanced diet, and getting adequate sleep is more important than ever during the stressful holiday season.
- Being realistic, learning to say no, and setting a budget are other helpful ways to avoid holiday stress.