The holidays can be a time of joy, good cheer, festivities and relaxation. That is, if you’re not the one responsible for cooking, cleaning, planning, organizing, baking, hosting and socializing -in addition to your regular day to day tasks.
It’s no wonder the holidays can be stressful!
And that stress tends to disproportionately fall on women’s shoulders. Men can be just as involved in all the planning and prepping that accompanies holidays but in general, women tend to take on the bulk of this role. In doing so, women often strive to make sure everything is perfect and that everyone around them is having a good time. But what often gets sacrificed in all of this busyness is your own comfort and happiness. So, let’s look at a few things you can do to have a happy and relaxed holiday season.
1. Expect that things will go wrong
Seriously. The holidays require planning but sometimes the best laid plans go astray. Travel plans fall through, your turkey gets delivered 2 days late, dinner gets burnt, your in-laws show up unexpectedly early. Whatever happens, just roll with it. The expectation of everything going perfectly is what adds a lot of stress to the season. Expect that not everything will go perfectly and that you might have to change plans or be flexible. And that’s okay. Make your peace with this right now. It will dramatically reduce your stress level.
2. Build more physical activity into your day
As little as 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five days of the week will help you stay healthy and de-stressed. No matter how busy you get, we recommend not giving up your exercise. Physical activity does wonders to help reduce stress. Take a walk around the block or grab the dog to go for a stroll. Sacrificing your exercise can do more harm than good in the long run.
3. Don’t go it alone
Many people suffer from stress during the holidays because they face all the planning, shopping and organizing by themselves. Be proactive by asking your partner or family members to help out a little more. Be specific. Don’t just ask people to ‘help out.’ Instead, give them detailed tasks. Ask your kids to help you prep dinner for the in-laws, ask your partner to do the grocery shopping or to be in charge of sending the invites. Whatever you need help with, get those around you to help you out. Don’t wait for someone to offer, just ask.
4. Keep it simple
The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. This might be the case if you’re welcoming out-of-town guests and hosting family festivities. Streamline your holidays as much as possible. Focus on what is important to you and your family. Everything else is just extra. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and ask yourself if it’s really necessary.
5. Learn from the past
Think about past holidays and figure out what events were the most draining or stress-producing. Was it planning and organizing 5 parties? Attending too many events? Or was it promising to run your company secret Santa gift exchange? Think about the event that was stressful and do one of two things: Ditch it if you can. Modify it if you can’t. Chances are good that you can either cut down on the activity or someone else can take it on. From our examples above, in these cases you could limit yourself to organizing 2 parties instead of 5, cut down on the number of engagements you attend or ask someone else to spearhead the secret Santa this year. In almost every single case, there is something you can do to reduce the burden on yourself.
6. Take care of yourself
This is the most important tip.
The holidays can take a lot out of you mentally, physically and emotionally. So, take some time for yourself. Pamper yourself by doing things that will reduce your stress levels: Go for a run, keep active or spend some alone time with a book and a bubble bath. Remember, this is your holiday too!