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How to reduce stress & embrace joy this holiday season

Dec 4, 2023

Hey there, lovely readers! As the holiday season approaches, it’s no secret that it can be a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for many of us, it can also be a season that brings stress and anxiety along for the ride. The pressure to create perfect moments, manage family dynamics, and keep up with a jam-packed schedule can take a toll on even the merriest of spirits. But fear not, because today we’re going to discuss some tips and strategies to help you handle stress and anxiety during the holiday season so you can embrace the joy of the season instead.

  1. Plan Ahead: The key to an stress-free holiday season is careful planning. Start by creating a to-do list and a schedule that will help you manage your time effectively. This includes everything from gift shopping and meal preparation to travel plans and holiday decorations. A well-organized plan can help you stay on top of your commitments and reduce last-minute stress. Be sure to reach out to family and friends early to prevent planning issues.

  2. Set Realistic Expectations: It’s crucial to acknowledge that not everything has to be perfect. The idea of a “perfect” holiday can set unrealistic expectations and be a major source of stress. Remember that the most cherished moments are often the imperfect ones. Embrace the quirks and mishaps; they are part of what makes your celebrations unique and memorable.

    {A little story time for this point: The photos in this post are from our recent family photo session. Now, while you can’t tell from most of the photos (*see Ivy’s cranky faces), I was SO stressed out and overwhelmed during these photos. Ivy was struggling to regulate and just NOT having it. I was almost in tears literally thinking we didn’t get one nice photo of all of us and that we spent all that money on nothing. Then a few weeks later, these come in my email… and there I went, almost crying again, because they were perfect. They were a perfect representation of my family. My heart was so happy and I loved them all, even the ones with the crabby faces. Did I wish Ivy was in more? Sure. But 1. I’m so thankful for what we did get and 2. WOW did I overreact and 3. Maybe they weren’t “perfect” by some standards, but they were perfectly us and that’s what matters. If I’d set the expection in my head that there was always a chance they might not go to plan and that I just have to go with the flow and make the most of it, not that how I felt wasn’t valid, but it would’ve saved me a lot of stress and anxiety that day.}

  3. Practice Self-Care: Don’t forget to take care of yourself during this busy season. Self-care is essential for managing stress and anxiety. Dedicate some time each day to do something that relaxes you, whether it’s reading a book, taking a bath, or going for a walk. You can’t pour from an empty cup, so make sure to recharge and rejuvenate. It’s KEY!

  4. Reach Out for Support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to lean on your support system. Whether it’s talking to a friend, family member, or therapist, sharing your concerns can be incredibly comforting and helpful. Sometimes, just talking through your worries can alleviate stress and anxiety. Remember: it’s OKAY not to do everything yourself. Asking for help is a good thing and lets others know you trust and value them, too.

  5. Set Boundaries: Be mindful of your boundaries and communicate them clearly with your loved ones. The holidays can sometimes bring family tensions to the surface. Don’t feel obligated to say yes to every request or invitation. Respectfully setting boundaries will help reduce stress and maintain a healthier balance. And, on that note, acknowledge that others have boundaries, too. It’s best if everyone is mindful of this to avoid difficult situations that can arise during the holidays.

  6. Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, can help you stay present and reduce anxiety. Take a few moments each day to center yourself and let go of worries about the past or future. Staying in the here and now can make a big difference in your stress levels. Staying present can also give you a real sense of gratitude while you’re living in the moment.

  7. Stay Active: Physical activity is a fantastic way to manage stress. Whether it’s a brisk winter walk, a yoga session, or a visit to the gym, exercise can boost your mood and help you relax. This is also a great way to get some “you time” during what is often a chaotic time with a lot of people.

  8. Maintain Healthy Eating Habits: While indulging in holiday treats is a tradition, don’t forget to balance them with nourishing foods. Eating a well-rounded diet and staying hydrated can help you feel more energized and less stressed. As I always say, moderation moderation moderation. You don’t have to deny yourself, but maybe don’t over indulge either 😉

  9. Get Enough Sleep: SLEEEEEEEP! Sleep is a powerful stress reducer. Aim to maintain a consistent sleep schedule, and ensure you’re getting enough rest during the holiday season. Adequate sleep will help you tackle the day’s challenges with a clear mind and a positive attitude. Don’t forget to take advantage of a little nap, too, while you have extra hands around to help with tasks, watching the kiddos, meal prep, etc.

  10. Embrace Gratitude: The holiday season is a great time to reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Keep a gratitude journal and jot down the positive moments, big or small. Focusing on gratitude can shift your perspective and reduce stress. Try to wake up and write down three things you’re thankful for and then do it again when you go to sleep. It really can impact your whole day and help you feel lighter & more present this holiday season.

Remember, the holiday season should be a time of joy, love, and connection. By implementing these strategies, you can reduce stress and anxiety, making room for a more enjoyable and meaningful holiday season. Embrace the imperfections, cherish the moments with your loved ones, and create beautiful memories.

Wishing you all a happy and stress-free holiday season, from my family to yours!

Check out other fun things to do this holiday season on this blog post!

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