8 Tips For Staying Sane And Healthy During The Holidays

Oh the holidays, we love them and we dread them. Tis the season of joy, laughter, family, friends, cakes, candy… carbs…colds…stress, you get the gist. Holidays can be very stressful, we want them to go perfectly, we want to please everyone, and we want the little ones to experience the magic. Not only do our anxiety levels sky rocket, but our wallets, waistlines, and emotional health take a hit. Here are some tips to start thinking about ahead of time to try and mitigate these worries and boost your holiday enjoyment.

Tip 1: Set Expectations

Most of the time we blindly go into a holiday season on auto pilot. We have our traditions, we have decorations, our travel plans. Try to take a minute for yourself and with your significant other, children, loved ones, etc. and ask “What do we want to get out of this holiday season?” You might surprise yourself with your answer. Maybe you want to minimize the work this year or maybe you want to go all out. By setting your expectations beforehand, you are able to bypass disappointment. Disappointing yourself or disappointing others. Stay true to what you want, what you need, and be mindful of what your family needs.

Tip 2: Just say “No”

This one is really hard for people to do. This stems from the first question on setting expectations. You will undoubtedly feel pulled in all directions, but you don’t have to be. Friends want you at their parties, relatives want you to travel to see them, school events, church events, work events, significant others’ work events, and who knows what else. Understand that you are only one person. Prioritize the events that you really want to attend, not the ones you feel obligated to attend. Why spend time doing something you don’t necessarily want to do, just to please someone else? This may sound selfish, but sometimes that’s necessary for your health. Particularly during this time of year, you have wants and needs and things to do, so don’t feel bad for saying “no”. Bottom line, participate in the things that mean most to you and skip the rest.

Tip 3: Stick to a routine

Nothing will run you down quicker than when you feel like there is no rhythm, consistency, or structure to your life. Alter your routine by scheduling in special times to get the things done, but make sure you continue with life as you normally would. Set aside an hour or two a day to get some holiday tasks knocked off your list. Maybe you go shopping every Tuesday after work to get all your presents purchased. Then every Thursday you bake some holiday goodies that you can freeze or store before eating. Commit to only one party a week. Setting aside specific times that you allow yourself to get your tasks done will help you feel less overwhelmed and out of whack.

Tip 4: Technology is your friend

There are some really great resources out there that not only make your work life better, but also help keep your holiday season under control. Here are a few of my favorites:

Trello- “Trello keeps track of everything, from the big picture to the minute details.”

This product is free and available online and mobile. It works like digital sticky notes. You can create boards for anything you want, “Presents to Purchase”, “Meals to Prepare”, “Events to Attend”, you can keep everything in order so you don’t skip a beat.

Paperless Post- Save time and money by creating your holiday cards online. No more ordering, no more postage, just get your email list prepped, personalize your beautiful card, and click send. Voila, you’re done! 

Money Clouds- Finances can be a huge stress during the holidays. So plan out all the gifts you want to purchase, make sure you know how much they are and start saving! This platform will also come in handy if you need to collect funds for your child’s holiday school event, money from family for the big Christmas dinner, or perhaps your long distance family members want to send little Johnny some holiday cash. Create a Cloud for your children’s college funds and have your family send the money there! There are endless possibilities to help your financial stress level and keep you on track.

Tone It Up- This is my favorite go-to for online fitness routines. These ladies offer a TON of free online workout videos that you can do from the comfort of your own home. Yoga, HIIT, Stretching, Full Body, whatever it is, you can make sure to get your 10 to 30 minutes of fitness in without needing to drive to the gym and worry about all that holiday traffic. Take some time for you each day, moving around and sweating does wonders for your physical and mental health.

Tip 5: Sanitize

This may seem like a no brainer but I’m telling you, it’s a lot less common than you would think. Avoid that holiday cold as much as possible by sanitizing. Keep hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes with you at all times. Wipe down your work space every day. Wipe down the shopping cart before you get your shop on. Lots of germs are floating around and you can’t afford to get sick, so do your part and keep it germ free!

Tip 6- Taking Breathing Breaks

When we get stressed our blood pressure rises and our anxiety spikes. When you feel like you’re starting to build up from the crowds, the noises, the yelling children, the burnt turkey, step aside to a quiet place and practice deep breathing. No, you don’t have to find your zin or practice meditation, just close your eyes and deeply fill up your lungs and let it all go. You will be amazed at how much breathing deeply can relieve stress before your breaking point is met. Read more from this article from Livestrong.com on the benefits of deep breathing.

Tip 7- Be present and in the moment

This one I find particularly hard. I am a planner/perfectionist, I want everything to go smoothly and perfectly and feel as though what I am creating is a reflection on me. This is where we forget to take in what is going on around us. Not only should we worry about making the holidays magical for our families, we need to make sure that we are making them magical for ourselves. Don’t just provide for others, enjoy the dinner you made, stop and appreciate the beautiful tree you just spent hours decorating, treat yourself to a cup of coco by the fire, thank yourself for all that you have done. Just pause. Look around you. Are kids laughing, are the animals getting more cuddles than they could ever imagine, are you able to celebrate with the ones that you love? Take that in, appreciate your efforts, slow down, and enjoy what’s going on around you. You deserve it.

Tip 8- Be thankful

This is my favorite tip yet. We are human, we only know what we know and often times that means we think of the world revolving around ourselves. We get lost in our sorrows, we fall victim to our own circumstances, and it becomes a vicious cycle of depression, self-pity, and blindness. Often times we forget all the good things around us because we are consumed with the things that haven’t gone right. But what we forget to realize is that there are SO MANY things to be thankful for that we may be taking for granted. Are you able to have a beautiful meal for Christmas dinner? Are you able to spend time with loved ones? Are you fortunate enough to be able to provide for your significant other, children, pets, friends? Go through a list every day of the things that you can be thankful for. Say thank you to those who help you and love you. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t focus on what hasn’t gone right, focus on the present, on the awesome things happening around you. Though it is cliché, take a moment to recognize that there are many people in the world that are less fortunate, that are starving, that are lonely, that don’t have a family, don’t have the resources to celebrate anything. And then send your “thanks” out into the Universe. Positive thinking will turn your world around. Get out of the negative funk and be thankful.

Enjoy the holidays, appreciate what you have, and spread the love.

Charlee Van Wagenen