It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Yet for many, it's anything but that.
"If the holidays have you overwhelmed, you are not alone," says TriWest Healthcare Alliance Behavioral Health Educator Kristin Musch. "Expectations are high, to-do lists are long and, often, the budget is tight, which can result in sadness, anger, frustration and resentment."
But there's good news! Stress can be reduced, allowing you to actually enjoy this time. "The key is to plan ahead," adds Musch.
Check out our eight top tips for a stress-free holiday season:
- Check your expectations. Are they higher now than other times during the year? Ask yourself why. The holidays don't have to be perfect. Find a way to incorporate a few rituals that bring you happiness and comfort. Fewer expectations can lead to greater appreciation and enjoyment.
- Manage your time. Schedule specific days and times for shopping, baking, wrapping and other holiday commitments. Make sure that what you are doing is important to you. Add in some scheduled down-time for reading, watching a movie or taking in a favorite hobby.
- Just say no. This is not the time to take on extra projects at home, school or for others. Know your limits and stick to them. Productivity expert David Allen has sage advice on this topic. "You can do anything, but not everything."
- Move it. Feeling overwhelmed? Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress, says Musch. The few minutes you take to get in a walk, rake some leaves or go for a run will clear and calm your mind. Include your kids or other family members in your activities.
- Indulge carefully. Whether gift shopping, snacking on tasty holiday treats or celebrating with cocktails, make sure to do it all in moderation. The indulgence now could leave a sour taste in your mouth when that credit card statement or scale presents you with a number you weren't expecting.
- Keep visions of sugar plums dancing in your head. That's right. Sleep is a must during this busy time. It will restore your energy, ward off illness and will keep your head clear during a time of year when we all have a lot on our minds.
- Laugh it up. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the saying goes. Surround yourself with people and activities that bring a smile to your face. And be sure to stay away from those that bring you down.
- Focus on the haves, not the have-nots. Author Melody Beattie may have said it best. "Gratitude turns what we have into enough." Every day there is something for which to be grateful. Whatever that is, however small it is, identify it, share it, write it down. When we focus on what we have, it truly becomes enough.
Here's to a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday season!
For more tips on managing stress, visit TriWest.com/BH.