No matter what you celebrate, the holiday season can be a busy time, filled with social events, family, friends…and stress. High expectations (intended or not), cold and flu season, family dynamics, and financial stressors can all take their toll. Add all of those things to your regular daily routine of work and/or child-rearing, and you might be feeling more like Scrooge instead of your normal self! While it’s not possible to prevent all stress – and a little stress is actually good for you – here are three things to remember that can help you manage stress during the holidays.
Remember that “No” is a complete sentence
Too often, women feel like they should please everyone and put everyone else before their own needs/wants. Doing for others is a wonderful thing, but not at the expense of your own health or self. You need to nurture yourself before you can nurture others. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, over-scheduled, or simply spread too thin this holiday season, it’s okay to say “no.” That’s all. Just “no.” You don’t have to give an explanation, excuse, background story – “no” is a complete sentence. No guilt necessary!
This is the season of eggnog and pumpkin pie, turkey and stuffing, candy canes and latkes and black-eyed peas and festive cocktails. While it’s completely fine – even necessary – to indulge a little bit, it’s also important to remember that food is your fuel. During a busy, stressful time, healthy and nutritious food will boost energy levels and feel-good chemicals. Alcohol is a depressant, so if the holidays stress you out or are emotionally challenging, you might want to minimize your imbibing. While sweets are yummy and usually easy to grab-and-go, there is inevitably a sugar crash, leading to fatigue and irritability, which doesn’t help stress at all. Remember to stay hydrated, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and choose your sweets wisely.
If you’re pregnant or nursing, eating well is especially important. Drink lots of water, make sure you’re getting enough calories, and take your prenatal vitamin (yes, even if you’re nursing!). Rest when you can, and be gentle with yourself – you are doing hard, important work!
Remind yourself to be realistic
It can be really, really easy to get caught up in the idea of a storybook holiday season: making sure the kids all have matching pajamas for the holiday card and/or Christmas Eve, putting together a traditional meal with all the fixins and family traditions, finding just the right gift for your partner or child, all on top of making sure the house is clean and everything’s going as planned. If you have a large family or lots of social plans with friends, it can also be overwhelming to balance everyone’s schedule, trying to attend all the parties or events. It’s okay to not do it all. You (and your family) need time to decompress and just do nothing at home.
Ask for help when you need it. Can your partner or kids do chores around the house? That’s less for you to do. Can you order a bunch of gifts online instead of spending hours in the stores? Great. How about buying prepared food instead of making everything from scratch? It’s okay to pick and choose which events to attend, what your actual budget is for gift giving, and not to do all of the hype the holidays can bring. Have your family choose what is most meaningful, and go from there.