It’s no surprise that the holidays can bring on immense stress despite its connotation with glee and merriment. With the pressure that comes from buying the perfect gifts, traveling, catching up with friends and family and finding the financial means to get through the holidays, sometimes these sources of joy can quickly become stressors. In fact, one study found that women are 11% more likely to be stressed about the holidays than men. However, just because the weather is frightful doesn’t mean you have to be! Here are a few tips to help you get back to what really matters so you can take it easy this holiday season.
Sure, social media and advertising may have you convinced that coffee mugs or homemade cookies aren’t suitable gifts in comparison to the goods of craft aficionados and amateur bakers on Pinterest and Instagram. However, these feelings of inadequacy can often be misplaced. It’s important to recognize your limits in terms of your ability and the amount of effort you put into each gift. Remember the old adage, “it’s the thought that counts”. What matters most is the thoughtfulness and attentiveness that you put into your gift. For that friend that raves about wanting a spa day, try putting together some items such as nail polish, sheet masks and a bottle of rosé. Chances are, she’ll love that you took the time to put together a thoughtful gift, and the personalization adds an extra layer of sentimentality. If you really want to treat your loved ones but are having a hard time making ends meet, DO NOT SWEAT IT. At the end of the day, it is more important that you take care of your bills and immediate needs than it is to buy gifts that will end up breaking the bank. Your loved ones will be gracious that you aren’t going without, and if you are concerned about affording presents for little ones, click this link for local resources that offer toy and clothing donations for Christmas. (Bonus: They also accept donations, so if you are looking to re-home some gently used items, check it out!)
The holiday season seems to approach so slowly until before you know it, February is here. For college students, this may manifest in final exam stress and coffee binges. For developing professionals, this can be a time with swiftly approaching deadlines and little time. Busy moms may feel exhausted with trying to budget gifts and the time necessary to devote to it. Wherever you may land on the spectrum, it’s likely that you aren’t checking up on yourself as much as your mind and body need. Try setting aside time to write your own list of wants, needs or goals. Maybe you’d like to demonstrate more gratitude in your daily interactions, or perhaps there’s a fitness membership you’ve had your eyes on for quite some time. Don’t be afraid to put these things down on paper, and check this list often to see if you have achieved any of it. Putting your wants and needs down on paper and finding a way to make it come into fruition is an excellent way to practice introspection and self-care, and can ultimately lead to a more positive mindset and brighter New Year.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but psychology shows that loneliness over the holidays is an objectively awful feeling, and those feelings of isolation can actually lead to devastating effects such as lower immune system functioning, higher risk for depression and even higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease. If this is a recurrent fear for you, try making plans with extended family or even acquaintances ahead of the holiday season. If you know someone that may be lonely over the holidays, please consider extending them an offer for your festivities. Better yet, grab a friend and check out the local festivities happening around the community!
As if we need more science to back up beating the holiday blues, studies show that the increased time spent indoors, along with the higher stress and sugar intake (did somebody say Christmas cookies?) that all come with the holiday season can actually affect your immune system and make you ill. In fact, the molecule “sucrose” that comes from all the hot cocoa, cookies, candy canes and other sweet treats can compete with your body’s ability to absorb and maintain levels of vitamin C, which is essential for proper immune functioning. Additionally, it’s no secret that stress also weakens the immune system. Don’t let wellness go to the wayside as you prepare for the holidays. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of sleep are two simple (yet very effective) ways to ensure that you stay at the top of your game.
Even though the holidays can be stressful at times, it’s important to take a step back and enjoy the “most wonderful time of the year”! Find joy in the simple pleasures such as the various Christmas lights around your neighborhood or snuggling in a warm blanket with a cup of cocoa and watching the snow fall outside. Take pride in how far you’ve come since the beginning of the year, and find celebration in the growth and progress you’ve made. Whatever you choose to celebrate during the holiday season, don’t forget to celebrate yourself too. Don’t be afraid to reflect on the good and the bad, for all of this has shaped you into the person you are today.
Follow these steps and you’re sure to make the nice-list. If you need a little help this holiday season or would like to contribute to the spirit of giving, here are a few more resources to participate in: