The holidays are meant to be a time when you get to unwind, spend time with loved ones, and get away from the stressors of everyday life. However, between holiday party planning and gift giving, holiday stress is a common occurrence. It’s understandable; think about all the things you have to do! Cooking meals, shopping, baking, cleaning, handling finances, and entertaining, all come with an array of obligations over the holidays.

We want to equip you with tips for holiday stress management to ensure that you stay grounded, mindful and present (even when it gets difficult!)

Take a step back

To avoid feeling overwhelmed, the first way to handle holiday stressors is by taking a step back.

Acts of gratitude or mindfulness can help reduce holiday stress. Mindfulness is being fully present by observing thoughts, sensations, and feelings objectively.

Mindfulness benefits have been linked  to an increase in positivity, decreased stress, and less emotional reactivity–all things that would prove quite useful this time of year!

In addition to mindfulness, practicing gratitude keeps you grounded and can take the edge off of the season. Gratitude is a useful tool that’s tied to an increased satisfaction and happiness with life . Whether you take a minute each morning to mentally list 3 things you appreciate or you write them down in your daily journal, you’ll likely see a mindset shift that works to reduce holiday stress.

Be flexible

One of the top reasons for holiday stress is the feeling you’re not ‘doing enough’. Your expectations of what the holidays should look like versus reality may not be aligned. As we prepare for the holidays, we frequently set impossible goals for ourselves, only to be disappointed when our holidays fall short of our expectations. Recognize that things may not go as planned before you begin planning. “It’s perfectly okay  if it’s not perfect.” Imperfection is a good and natural state of being. It could just take some practice for some of us.

Keep your usual routine

Maintaining your regular schedule is an important part of managing holiday stress. Don’t toss your daily routine out the window; your mind and body require it! Keep moving and doing what you regularly do, whether it’s daily exercise or getting up at a specific hour, and you’ll be able to enjoy your holiday while maintaining your regular routine.

Remember to breathe

This may seem obvious, yet we often forget to take deep breaths and provide our bodies with the oxygen they require. If you have ten minutes to yourself, a breathing meditation is ideal, but even stopping to take a few deep, cleansing breaths will significantly lower your negative stress levels in minutes. If you imagine yourself breathing in peace and exhaling tension, the mindful benefits of this practice will be amplified.

Moderation is key

Yes, you should enjoy foods that you might only have once a year, but don’t forget to eat healthy, too. Moderation is key! As long as you’re not using food to cope with unhealthy holiday stressors, that is. For instance, most of us have a tendency to overeat throughout the holidays. This results in gaining weight, amplifying holiday stress in the process. To avoid running down a rabbit hole of negative consequences, try eating balanced meals at regular intervals and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues.

Prioritize yourself

With so much emphasis on giving around the holidays, it’s easy to forget to give back to yourself. Taking care of yourself can boost your attitude and make taking care of others simpler. Make time for activities that you like. Make time to exercise, organize a date night, or simply get some fresh air. Also, don’t overlook the necessity of getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Self care is not selfish. Holidays are all about giving—to yourself, too!

We truly hope that these holiday stress management tips will help you navigate this season! From the entire team at Vytal Health, we hope that you and your loved ones have joyous and healthy holidays!