They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year… but sometimes, the holiday season doesn’t really feel that way.
We’re about to dive headfirst into the holiday season, with Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s right around the corner. But all of that celebrating can bring along with it anxiety and stress. With the pressure to get everything right, additional social responsibilities, and seasonal depression that too often accompanies the winter months, December can feel totally overwhelming — not relaxing at all.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way.
As long as you make sure to take care of number one (that’s you!), let go of perfection, and focus on the important things, the hectic holiday season really can become the joyful, rejuvenating time it’s meant to be.
Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled 15 things anyone can do to take care of their personal wellbeing and stay calm, tranquil, and happy during the holiday season.
Spend time with the people you love most
This holiday season, make an effort to spend time with the people you care about most. Whether that’s your family, your BFFs, or a group of friends you’ve lost touch with, focusing on meaningful relationships will help you feel happier and calmer. It’ll be a good reminder of how much love and support you have in your life, even when life feels overwhelming.
...but remember to get plenty of “me” time
Celebrating the holidays usually involves a lot of socializing — maybe more than you’re used to. Prioritize time alone with yourself to recharge your batteries. If that means you need to skip your company’s holiday party in order to take a candlelit bubble bath at home or duck into an empty bedroom during a family party to take a quick power nap, do it!
Get enough sleep
When the holidays roll around, suddenly it can seem as though there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. And sometimes it’s tempting to let your sleep schedule suffer in order to accomplish everything on your to-do list. Resist that urge! Making sleep a priority will help you feel so much better — and it’ll give you the energy you need to get the big things done.
Decorate your space
The little things really can make a difference. Spend a few minutes making your desk or apartment look a little more festive, even if it’s with something as small as stringing some lights or picking out a small tree. Getting your surroundings ready for the holidays on the outside can help you feel more ready and excited about the holidays on the inside.
Be realistic with your budget
Nothing adds anxiety and stress quite like financial worries. During the holiday season, you might feel pressure to spend more than your finances currently allow. Resist the urge to overspend on gifts. Suggest that your friends put together a gift exchange so each person only has to purchase one present. Try and think of thoughtful, homemade gifts that might put a little less stress on your budget. After all, it’s the thought that counts.
Have a holiday party
Host a fun party to blow off some steam and get the people you love together. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate — a simple potluck dinner with some festive party games totally does the trick. (Of course, everyone is different and you know yourself best. If the thought of throwing a party just stresses you out more, don’t sweat it!)
Remember to exercise
Just because your schedule is packed and the weather’s chilly doesn’t mean you can’t take the time to get moving. Regular exercise will help you keep your mind clear and calm. Plus, it’ll help you stay happy and healthy (and let’s be honest — getting sick is the LAST thing you need right now!).
Take a break
During the chaotic holiday season, you can’t always control your surroundings. The crowds at the mall might be crazy, drama might ensue at your family party, plans might change at the last minute. But you can control how you respond. When everything around you gets to be too much, take a moment to breathe. Zero in on your breath, focus inward, and meditate. Even just a five-minute break to recenter your focus and calm yourself down can work wonders.
Stick to a schedule
Do your best to keep to a regular routine — even during the busy season, even during the holiday break. Remember to move regularly, drink plenty of water, be productive, and eat at normal times. It’ll help you feel more in control of your life, even when everything else feels a little crazy.
Plan a getaway
It’s a lot easier to relax when you’re on the beach soaking up some rays. Take advantage of your time off from work by having a proper vacation! It’ll give you something to look forward to whenever life starts to get overwhelming. Whether you splurge and travel far away or stay close by, a change of scenery can help you stay calm and happy.
It’s hard to feel your best when you’re eating nothing but junk food all day. This holiday season, make sure you take care of your body. Feed it nutritious, healthy foods that will give it the energy it needs to tackle your endless to-do list. (And remember to go easy on the booze! A nasty hangover can make even simple tasks completely unbearable.)
...but treat yourself, too!
Let’s be honest: food is one of the best things about the holiday season. From cranberry sauce to pumpkin pie, gingerbread to fresh rolls, apple cider to hot cocoa, you’ll definitely find yourself surrounded by all sorts of delectable treats this winter. Allow yourself to indulge a bit! You deserve to enjoy yourself. Life’s never so hard when you’re eating pumpkin pie.
If you focus on the negative, you’ll think up plenty of reasons why you should be stressed. But if you focus on the positive, you’ll find there are so many things to be grateful for. During the season of giving, look for reasons to be happy and thankful Express your gratitude freely, whether it’s with a card or a text. You’ll be surprised at how much easier life gets when you have an attitude of gratitude.
Prioritize what’s most important
Are you stressed about never having enough time to finish everything on your to-do list? Maybe the problem isn’t that there’s not enough time — it’s that there’s too much on your list. Make sure you prioritize the things that are most important to you. Give yourself the grace to let things go. If your schedule is already too busy as it is, don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to other things that come up. Devote your best efforts to the things that matter most, then let the other things fade into the background.
Remember the reason for the season
The holiday season isn’t just about deadlines, social pressures, and spending money. And it’s not only about parties, presents, and traditions either. It’s about celebrating the things that matter most in life: family, relationships, love, kindness, and gratitude. And those things aren’t stressful at all. Focus on them.
You deserve to feel happy, in control, and relaxed — especially when it’s time to celebrate. Be kind to yourself. Don’t put undue pressure on your shoulders to make sure everything is perfect. Use the festive season as an opportunity to refocus on what’s really important and to recharge your batteries. And don’t forget to have fun!
Remember that the holidays are about love — love for your friends, family, and yourself. With the right mindset, you really will be able to have a great Thanksgiving, a holly jolly Christmas and a happy New Year.