How to Manage Holiday Stress
As if the holiday season isn’t stressful enough, we are now trying to celebrate during a pandemic! Whether you’re choosing to travel or planning a low-key holiday at home, there are any number of things that can raise stress levels this time of year. You may worry about traveling safely, or stress about online purchases getting delivered on time. And if you can’t visit loved ones, how do you still connect and make it special?
Holiday stress is an issue no matter what your circumstances may be. So how do you effectively manage your stress and stay calm during this time of year?
How to Manage Holiday Stress & Practice Self-Care During the Holiday Season
Choose quality over quantity
Our bodies burn through many nutrients when we’re in a state of stress, so be sure you’re putting plenty of nutritious foods back in. Stress often causes us to reach for rich comfort foods, however frequent indulgences will do more harm than good in the long run and leave you more susceptible to illness. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. And comfort food can still come in the form of a warm and brothy homemade vegetable soup!
Be aware of daily movement
Are you being diligent about moving for at least 30 minutes every day - even if it’s just for a short walk around the neighborhood? As humans we were built to move, and when we’re sedentary all day long our bodies can create a stress response. Restless sleep, inability to focus, lack of energy - these are all symptoms of not getting enough exercise. If you have trouble setting aside time to move each day, set a recurring calendar reminder to pop up mid-day so that you don’t forget.
Find a new creative way to connect
We are social beings, and isolation can really take its toll on mental health. If you usually connect through phone calls or texts but have noticed recently that communication has been difficult to keep up with, find a new way to make connections with your loved ones. Mail a handwritten letter or postcard, or send someone a small care package knowing how much joy it will bring to the recipient. There are so many new apps now that make connecting fun and easy, such as WhatsApp (you can send voice recordings or short videos) or Marco Polo (video voicemails to respond to at your leisure). A Zoom happy hour is nice, but what about doing a trivia night instead over video call? Set up a game night, a book club discussion, a cocktail mixer night - the possibilities are endless!
Get some fresh air
It may be getting colder outside, but it is best to start learning how to bundle up. Get out of your normal neighborhood and drive somewhere for a hike in the morning to take advantage of the early light. Take deep breaths of fresh air, and enjoy the colors of the world around you. This is also a wonderful safe way to meet a friend for a walk and catch up while getting in your exercise for the day. You will feel more calm and recharged in a positive way!
Evaluate your schedule
Is your work calendar suddenly filled with meetings? How many Zoom calls or walks do you have scheduled with friends this week? If you’ve overcompensated with work or social time, you could be adding more stress without even realizing it. Clear up your schedule where you can, and remember that “me” time is still just as important as the time you give to others.
Prioritize mental health
At some point there is only so much we can do on our own and we may reach a plateau. When you are feeling unsettled, burned out, flustered but not sure why, it may be time to talk to a professional. Many therapists are making video call sessions available, and mental health services are becoming more widely covered by health insurance companies. It can be so helpful to speak to an objective party about any worries you may have.
This holiday season, remember the things that truly matter in life. These tips will help you to create a positive space for your mind and body so that you can look to the future with hope and excitement. The best holidays are relaxing, stress-free, and filled with love and connection. Cookies never hurt either.