The holiday season is upon us, bringing joy, merriment — and often, a fair amount of stress. No matter how much you may love this time of the year, figuring out how to manage the stress that comes with it is a challenge.
But it doesn't have to be. There are simple ways to make this time of year special without feeling like you're burning the candle at both ends.
6 Tips for managing holiday stress
Holidays are busy, and stress-free holidays can't always be a reality. However, you can manage the stress that threatens to ruin your jolly mood during this time of year. When holiday planning has you feeling tense, try your hand at these six tips to make the lead-up to the holiday season a little more relaxing.
1. Make aromatherapy your friend
Something as simple as the right scent can have noticeable effects — including, notably, stress management. Research shows that certain essential oils, such as lavender and bergamot, can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. Consider keeping an essential oil in your pocket to pull out when you need it, or try putting an oil diffuser in your car or home.
2. Get the easy things out of the way
Timing is everything. If your to-do list is clogged with low-pressure tasks like organizing gifts for your kids' teachers or writing cards for colleagues, finish out those less stressful obligations early so that they're already crossed off your to-do list when holiday stress is in full swing.
3. Ask for (and accept) help
Holidays are a time to come together, and yet it's common for perfectionist planners to try to organize the festivities all by themselves. Doing everything on your own is a sure way to bring on the stress. Even if you don't think you need help, accept it when it's offered. And keep in mind that help doesn't always have to come from someone you know. If you're swamped, delegating something to the professionals — like having a family meal catered instead of cooking yourself — may be the best help you can get.
4. Take a breather
Spa day? A night out with your girlfriends? Netflix and a glass of wine? Whatever helps you unwind, put down the presents and family logistics for a night and do it. After all, the holidays are meant to be fun! It's a lot easier to tackle everything on your plate if you take some time to refresh your mind and body in the process.
5. Balance activity and sleep
The holiday season probably isn't the best time to start an intense workout routine, but you can still prioritize getting active. Simple activities like walking and stretching improve your mood and boost your energy levels. At night, cap off the day with a good night's sleep. Balance is key. Listen to your body — it'll tell you what it needs to keep you feeling energized through the entire season.
6. Set clear boundaries
It may be the season of giving, but that doesn't mean you need to say "yes" to everyone and everything. Set clear boundaries, turn down requests with kindness when you need to and make more room in your life for the things that make you happy.
Popular depictions of the holidays focus on the positives — family, community, warmth, love — for a reason. While stress-free holidays seem like a dream, all the hard work you put into making the holidays feel like home is part of what makes the season so wonderful. Of course, it's only worthwhile if you get a chance to slow down and appreciate all the good things your effort creates. As you begin feeling the pressure of hectic holiday planning, make sure you give your mind and body what it needs to stay happy and healthy through every celebration.
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