It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
If that’s true, then why do the holidays make us feel like we’re experiencing some sort of month long panic attack?
From hurried and aggravated shoppers, to dull corporate office party after dull corporate office party.
The holidays don’t always feel that wonderful – so what gives?
Well, the problem is most of us, myself included, have ridiculously high expectations for this season to be as perfect and as charming as a pretty holiday photo on Instagram.
So we take on more than we should and demand things be a certain way, which then makes us feel anxious and STRESSED when our reality doesn’t measure up to that flawless fantasy we created in our head.
So what’s the best way to dodge all the holiday stress?
Take a time-out.
Give yourself a break from the madness, it’s the best way to reenergize and refocus you on what’s important. Which will make you able to avoid holiday stress, or at the very least handle it better.
I recently wrote a post for Wandeleur on how to relax and make more time for yourself during the holidays and today I thought I’d expand on that topic with giving you a list of tips you can implement to experience less stress and more joy during the holiday season, and honestly throughout the entire year.
35 Ways to Have Less Stress & More Joy During the Holidays
1. Set Limits – you don’t have to do everything, attend every function, or please every person. Save your sanity and put some limitations up. Only participate in your absolute favorite holiday traditions, decline anything that causes you unnecessary stress.
2. Get Outside – Talk a walk and breathe in some fresh air. Even 5 minutes can help clear your mind and energize you in tackling your next task.
3. Seek laughter – Laughter is always good medicine as it relieves tension and instantly boosts your mood. Play games, watch your favorite comedy, or spend time with friends who have that special knack for making you smile.
4. Eat well – The better you treat your body, the healthier you will be and the better able you’ll be to handle stressful situations. You’re less likely to get sick and will be more energized throughout the season.
5. Catch your zzzz’s – I know for me a lack of sleep tends to escalate stressful times. Without a enough sleep we don’t operate as well physically, mentally, or emotionally, so be sure to get enough sleep each night.
6. Ask for help – This is a hard one for me as sometimes I let my pride get in the way of my well-being. But it’s important that you realize that you don’t have to do everything by yourself. Enlist the help of your partner, roommate, friends, siblings, children etc. As the saying goes – many hands make light work.
7. Stay active – It may be the last thing you feel like doing, especially when you’re stressed, but going for a run or hitting the gym can actually make you feel better. Exercise produces endorphins which help you handle stress and research has shown one workout can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.
8. Reserve some daily quiet time – One of the most calming and destressing practices you could introduce into your routine is spending some quiet time alone. You can meditate, pray, journal, or do anything you find calming. The point is to take some time for yourself to recharge.
9. Seek sunlight – Sunshine helps stimulate the production of feel-good serotonin and relieves any feelings of melancholy. So spend time outdoors or sit near a window on sunny days to life your spirits.
10. Do less, enjoy more – The holidays tend to foster feelings of overabundance, as such we tend to go overboard to please others. From shopping and cooking to sending cards and attending every event. Instead of feeding into the more, more, more mentality try saying ‘no’ to a few things and enjoy more of the things you say yes to.
11. Stick to a daily routine – Prioritize your regular workouts and actitvities. Don’t try to squeeze more into your holiday than you or your schedule can handle.
12. Forget perfection – Accept that you can’t do it all. The world is not going to end if your home is a little cluttered or dinner is a little late. Focus your energy on enjoying your time with people you love having in your life. Don’t sweat the small stuff and your holiday will be much more enjoyable.
13. Unplug – The constant buzzing of text messages, emails, and social media alerts keep you in a perpetual state of distraction. Not only is it exhausting, but it adds to mounting stress levels. I know I tend to cut back my time on the blog and social media during this time of year. So try turning your gadgets off to fully enjoy your time spent with family and friends.
14. Jam to a holiday playlist – It’s been proven that listening to some of your favorite tunes can reduce your stress level, drop blood pressure, and lower your heart rate. Create your own holiday playlist of your favorite jams or turn on Spotify. I promise you’ll feel happier and full of the holiday spirit after jamming to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”.
15. Think positive – The holidays may drive you to your breaking point, but it’s important to not focus on just the bad. Negative thinking can trigger the body’s stress response just as easily as a real threat. Remember it’s a time to celebrate with family and friends, even if they do stress you out, and an optimistic attitude will help you cope with challenges that may come your way.
16. Take a day off – Stay in your pajamas, drink tea, laze on the couch, and binge watch a Netflix series. You’ll be amazed at how destressed and relax you’ll feel after those stolen 8-hours of freedom.
17. Soak in a hot bath – If you can’t take a whole day off, shoot for an hour and spend it in a hot, steamy bath with your favorite bubbles, bath salts and candles.
18. Indulge in happy scents – For a tiny quick pick-me-up keep scents that make you happy handy. Whether it’s a steaming mug of spiced tea, the citrus aroma of an orange, or your favorite perfume. De-stress through the power of smell.
19. Finish early – There are few things more stressful than rushing through a mall with thousands of other shoppers, all hell bent on finishing their holiday shopping at the last minute. There’s traffic, it’s cold and snowy, the roads are a mess, the stores are crowded and you can’t find what you’re looking for. Ugh! No thank you. Save yourself the headache and get your shopping done bit by bit ahead of time.
20. Lay off the caffeine – I know you probably don’t want to hear this one, but it’s been proven that caffeine can make some people nervous and add to stress. It may help you get moving in the AM, but if you’re already feeling pressured it may be a good idea to switch to decaf during this.
21. Be easy on yourself – Most of the time the only person that expects perfection from you, is YOU. If you consider yourself to be your worst critic, then the stress of living up to your own expectations is probably stressing you out even more during this time of the year. Stop being so hard on yourself and relax a little.
22. Become a uni-tasker – Even if you consider yourself a practiced multi-tasker, taking on too much at once can make you feel frenzied over time. The holiday season is not about being super productive, it’s about living in the moment and enjoying the time you have. Therefore, instead of juggling several things at once, try focusing on one task at a time. You’re still getting things done, but by giving yourself permission to fully immerse in the experience you allow yourself to mentally recharge.
23. Let it go – I know I’m beating this concept over your head, but it’s important you realize you don’t have to do everything for everyone. It’s okay to say ‘no’ and to let things go.
24. Have fun in the snow – We’re all still kids at heart, so why not indulge in some play-time. Take a break from holiday planning and go build a snowman, make snow angels, or get a group together for an epic snowball fight. Let loose while you can!
25. Spend quality time with those closest to you – Family time may sound relaxing and joyful, but not all holiday visits are filled with warmth and affection. Time spent with family can reactivate old dynamics and stir up emotional reactions. While you can’t entirely avoid difficult family relationships during the holidays, make an effort to surround yourself and spend the majority of your time with those closest to you.
26. Sleep in – The beauty of a holiday break is the opporutnity to catch up on your Zzz’s. Ditch the late nights and early mornings for a more regular sleeping schedule. You can even sleep in a few days, saying goodbye to those dark circles and hello to a reenergized you!
27. Organize something – Whenever I feel life is out of control and everything is a hot mess, the best and quickest way I unload that stress is by organizing the physical space around me. Tidy your desk space, organize your closet, or just do a quick clean of your home. It’s amazing how an organized home can make you feel in control again.
28. Embrace the holiday spirit – One of the best ways to get rid of stress is to throw yourself uninhibited into the holiday spirit. Decorate your house, watch a holiday show, go ice skating, just do something that screams HOLIDAYS, and let the magic of the spirit work it’s charm.
29. Focus your vision – Take note of the three holiday traditions you love most and pencil those into your schedule. What tends to stress us out during the holidays is we don’t take the time to say what we really want. Make plans based on your vision on the holidays, anything that doesn’t fall into that vision – get rid of it.
30. Keep balance – Although it can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of shopping lists and dinner menus, it’s important to stay close to your emotions. Even if this means setting aside one night to spend a quiet evening at home, it’s important to engage in activities that make you feel in touch with yourself.
31. Have a quick read – Curling up with a good book is the ultimate winter luxury, but if you don’t have time to delve deep into a novel, try something short and sweet like a few poems or easy-to-read blog posts. You get to enjoy some literary downtime without the pressure to read ahead.
32. Take a shortcut to joy – Your regular schedule may have gone out the window as soon as family arrives, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon what you love. Just do a super-quick version of it. Turn your normally leisure chat with your best friend to a quick morning check-in, or skip hanging at your favorite coffee shop but grab your afternoon pick-me-up to-go. Figure out what gives you joy and commit to doing it throughout the holidays.
33. Have a mistletoe moment – Physical affection has shown to increase your body’s level of hormones that help reduce stress – so grab your honey and show some affection. Even if you’re not feeling frisky, try cuddling for a moment. Simply touching hands can make the stress melt away.
34. Create a holiday mantra – Decide on one word you that describes the holiday season you want to have this year. It could be Peace, Joy, Love, Family, or Serenity – to name a few. Write it down and put it somewhere you’ll be able to see it everyday like your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door, or even upload it as a screensaver to your phone. When things get hectic a glance at your guiding word will help remind you what you really want, making it easier to cut loose anything that distracts you from your goal.
35. Appreciate the mini moments – You hear it all the time, but it’s something that works. Notice the beauty around you and breathe it in. Practicing gratitude for the little things and pieces of daily life is an effective way to de-stress, and it’s contagious too!
Sign Up for my 10 Days of Joy Instagram Challenge!
I’m a firm believer that in order to experience less stress in your life, whether during the holidays or any time of year, you have to commit to practicing activities that bring you joy.
And there’s no time like RIGHT NOW to make that commitment.
Which is why I’m super excited to tell you about my 10 Days of Joy Instagram Challenge!
What’s this you ask?
It’s a 10 day challenge I designed to help you cultivate positivity and add more joy to your day, everyday.
This is usually a DIY challenge, but this time around we’re doing it all together via Instagram!
If this sounds like a fun time – which it totally is – sign up below to get all the details on participating.
We’ll be kicking everything off on Monday, December 14th.
If you come across this after the start date – no problem! You can still join in the fun and work your way through each challenge.
Sign up below!
p.s. I’d love to hear how you de-stress during the holidays. Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! I look forward to reading them 😀