The holidays are a magical time of year. Many of us look forward to them all year long. Unfortunately, not everyone feels joyful during the holidays. Even for those who do enjoy the holidays, it can be a stressful experience with all of the shopping, travel, and social commitments that usually come with each holiday. If you feel overwhelmed, you’re not alone – most people experience a heightened level of stress over the holiday season.
Thankfully, there are many simple ways to de-stress with mindfulness techniques. Things like being kind to others, letting go of perfectionism, taking time for yourself to get some peace and quiet, and keeping in mind the things that matter most are all helpful strategies for holiday stress management. Read the following guide to learn more about each of these ways to de-stress this holiday season.
1. Don’t let perfectionism get the best of you
Many of us suffer from perfectionism, and it can get much worse during the holidays. For some, if things do not go as planned, or if things do not look perfect, it can leave them feeling really anxious. This can make it hard to enjoy the holidays, both for themselves and those that love them.
It’s important to consider whether you struggle with perfectionism, which is defined as a need or desire for everything to be correct or perfect. It is linked to several mental health disorders, such as anxiety or OCD, and can be a difficult symptom to manage. If you feel that your anxiety is impossible to get under control, you may want to consider speaking with a doctor. However, if you just need a little help getting through the most stressful moments of the season, here are a couple of things to try:
Set Realistic Goals
When planning out what you need to do for the holidays, keep expectations of yourself realistic. If cooking a huge fancy meal will be too stressful, make something simple or consider preparing parts of the meal in advance. If you don’t have enough time or energy to decorate your whole house, focus on a few key decorations that are meaningful to you. Think about what you have the time, energy, and finances to do realistically, and plan accordingly.
Remind Yourself and Others: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes
No one is perfect, and no one does everything perfectly all the time, so it is ok if someone makes a mistake or if something doesn’t go as planned. It's important to forgive yourself and move on. If you struggle to remember this in the morning, try having a mantra prepared ahead of time that you can use to ground yourself. Something like “everyone makes mistakes” could be a helpful reminder that it will all be alright, no matter what mistakes happen along the way.
2. Kindness Goes a Long way
Kindness is a big part of the holiday season. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to stay kind if you are feeling stressed out. Performing kind acts for others is a great way to decrease stress. Besides giving gifts, here are some ideas for practicing kindness this holiday season.
Donating to a Charity
Sending gifts of money to a charity of your choice is a great way to de-stress and make yourself feel better. Choose a charity that has meaning to you. If you don’t know what charity to donate to, look up some local charities that are doing some good in your community. Homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, animal shelters, and organizations that help the poor are all good charities to donate to that often need extra support around this time of year.
Volunteer at a Local Food Bank
This one is along the same lines as giving to a charity. Food banks are needed by many to help with hunger needs throughout the year, and volunteering during the holidays and beyond is a great way to give back to your community. You’ll be doing a good deed for those who need it and making yourself feel better at the same time.
Shovel Snow for a Neighbor
This is a great way to show kindness if you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow around the holidays. If you are out shoveling your sidewalk or driveway, consider offering to do the same for your neighbor. This will probably help them out and help reduce your own stress at the same time! This is an especially thoughtful thing to do if you have a neighbor who is elderly, disabled, or may otherwise be unable to do it on their own.
Invite Others to Your Holiday Meal
Inviting others to share your holiday meal is a wonderful way to include others and show some kindness. Invite friends, neighbors, family, or even new acquaintances to your holiday meal. You never know who is feeling lonely or left out, and hosting a gathering full of kindness and holiday cheer is a great way to make everyone feel loved and included.
3. Take a Break
Too many of us run ourselves ragged during the holidays. With all the baking, cleaning, shopping, gift-wrapping, party-going, and meal-preparing we do, it’s no wonder we get tired and stressed out! Taking plenty of breaks is important so you don’t feel stressed or burnt out. Here are a few ways to take a restful break, no matter how little time you have.
Do Some Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is often part of mindfulness meditation, and for a good reason. Deep breathing is calming and grounding. If you are feeling stressed out, find a place to stop what you are doing and take some deep breaths. Breathe in and out through your mouth slowly while creating an “o” shape. Repeat this as long as you need to before returning to the task.
Sit in a Quiet Room
Sometimes, when feeling stressed out or frustrated, you just need to walk away. Go sit in a quiet room by yourself. You can do this in your bedroom or even the bathroom or laundry room if your home is crowded. Take some deep breaths and enjoy the peace and quiet of the space. Once you have let yourself process the moment and slowed down your racing thoughts, take a few extra moments to let yourself rest before returning to the hustle and bustle.
Go for a Walk
Going for a walk is a great way to take a break from something that is causing you stress. Get out of your crowded house and go for a quick walk around the block or in a nearby park. Seeing some nature, even if it’s just an evergreen bush or two, can help your mind and body relax a bit. The endorphins from the exercise can also be a big help!
One way people have had success staying calm during the holidays – and the rest of the year – is with meditation. Practicing mindful meditation every day can reduce stress and increase feelings of calmness and inner peace. It makes you feel grounded and balanced and can help you focus on the present.
Consider meditating every morning or evening – or both if you can. Meditating for just 5-10 minutes can make a huge difference in your stress levels. If you find it difficult to sit still, consider trying a walking meditation or some meditative yoga instead.
4. Remember What Matters Most
It’s very easy to get over-stressed and frustrated over small things during the holidays. However, at the end of the day, most of us know that not getting a present wrapped perfectly isn’t actually a big deal. When you feel yourself getting sucked into a never-ending to-do list, take some time to remember what matters most and prioritize your stress management over getting everything done perfectly.
Ask Yourself Questions
When you first begin to feel those negative, anxious feelings, have some questions ready to ask yourself. Ask yourself things like, “How important is this to me?” or “Is this something worth getting upset about?” Sometimes taking a step back and asking yourself a question like this is all you need to reframe things and remember what matters most to you at that moment.
List What Matters Most To You
What is most important to you this holiday season? Think about what you want most for the holidays and how you hope things will go.
What matters most will be different for each person. Try to set aside some time before the overwhelm sets in about what the holidays mean to you, how you want to spend your time, what your goals will be, and what you value overall. Once you know what matters most to you, remind yourself of that every time you begin to stress out over something that doesn’t align with those values.
The holidays are both wonderful and stressful. As much as we all enjoy spending time celebrating with loved ones, it’s easy to get stressed over family, food, gifts, shopping, and decorations. Thankfully, there are some ways to alleviate that stress. Hopefully, the strategies in this guide can help you have a calm, peaceful, and joyful holiday season.
Staying calm, grounded, and mindful is important for reducing stress during the holidays and the rest of the year, too. At Ungloo, we make it easier to practice mindfulness meditation. Shop our online store for helpful products to help you meditate more comfortably, or visit our blog for more information about how meditation can reduce stress.