We all have a picture in our head of what the perfect holiday season looks like. Probably something like a feel-good festive movie filled with tinsel, ham and glowing faces.
But while the holiday season can be fun, it can also bring its own set of worries—from that pile of reading you need to finish before next semester, to wondering whether you can get through the week (or day) without arguments.
Then there’s all the temptation, from eating your own bodyweight in chocolate truffles to spending all day in front of the television.
Here are a few easy-to-follow tips to keep holiday stress at bay, stay healthy and focus on the festive fun.
Make time for those Christmas chores and they won’t feel like chores at all.
Have a plan
You don’t have to make a color-coded spreadsheet (unless you’re into that), but a simple to-do list will make holiday tasks a little more manageable, and keep you out of the festive frenzy.
Often find yourself rushing around the shops at the last minute, or wrapping presents in a hurry? By planning ahead and designating particular days or evenings, those “tasks” could actually become something to look forward to.
Plot your escape
Whether there’s just a few of you or an overflowing household, sometimes all that noise and chatter just gets too much. We all need a little space from time to time.
It can be hard to voice this for fear of upsetting anyone, so look for reasons to break away for a while. Volunteer to walk the dog, take your Zipcar for a quick drive and pick up the cranberry sauce, or even do the washing up. Anything to get a little time to yourself.
The holidays are about spending time with loved ones, but it’s also important to take time to yourself. Don’t feel guilty if all you want to do is curl up with a book.
Take care of yourself
It could be a long soak in the bath, perhaps while everyone else is watching that movie you find annoying. It could be grabbing an afternoon power nap.
It could also be allowing yourself to curl up under a blanket with a mug of cocoa and a good book. Do whatever makes you feel good, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Stick to a routine
Usually have porridge with berries for breakfast, workout a little every afternoon, or make it your mission to read at least a chapter of that huge textbook or novel before bedtime? One of the best tips for managing holiday stress is to keep those good habits in your day.
It can be tricky—especially when staying under someone else’s roof—but maintaining a regular routine can help you feel more grounded and in control.
Meditation apps can be a simple yet effective way to get yourself back to center when everything gets a little too much.
Staying centered is even more important in the midst of this often hectic season.
If you’re new to meditation, check out apps like Headspace. It has routines for everyone from newbies to experienced meditators. There are packages for particular concerns, from health to relationships, and short “SOS” listens to cope with difficult moments.
If adopting a new habit seems too much right now, look into ambient noise apps like Naturespace and Noisli. They can help block out distractions, if only for a while. Just remember to pack your headphones.
Get outta there! Physical exercise is a great way to boost your mental wellbeing and gives you an excuse to escape for a while.
Get off the sofa
We’re not suggesting you spend Christmas Day on the treadmill. Still, a morning jog or a brisk walk should help clear your head before the festivities begin.
Incorporating just a little regular exercise into the holidays should help boost your mood, burn off some of that rich food and allow you to have some guilt-free sofa time.
Manage your expectations
We’re back to that picture of the perfect festive season. Often, stress is caused by our own unrealistic expectations.
No one’s life or family is perfect, no matter what their social media feed might suggest. So try to approach the holidays with an open mind, ready to embrace whatever comes your way.