Just kidding! There’s no way to completely eliminate stress from a busy life, especially around the holiday season. But there are ways to reduce stress and lots of tricks for helping you manage the unavoidable.
1. Start a daily meditation. If your first thought is “I don’t have time for that”, then that’s enough reason in itself. If your life is so hectic that you actually don’t have 7 minutes a day to give your mind a break, then maybe it’s time to take a serious look at what is really important to you. Getting into a meditation practice shouldn’t be complicated. At its most basic, meditation is simply taking a mental break. When you’re feeling physically tired, you might rest for a few minutes. Doing the same for your mind helps you glide through your busy days with ease. My favourite guided meditation app is called “Buddhify” ($2.99 for Apple or Android). It provides more than a dozen situations (ie “Work Break”, “Feeling Stressed”, “At Home”) each of which has multiple guided meditations of various lengths. There are lots of free ones available, too. But for the price of a cup of coffee, you can start down the path to a peaceful mind.
2. Keep to your routines. The holiday season is when routine can go right out the window. Work schedules change, you might be traveling to visit family (or having family travel to visit you), holiday get-togethers have you out later than you might be used to. But having routines can help you stay anchored despite all the other changes. In particular, your new daily meditation – this can be done while traveling, in your parked car in between holiday shopping, almost anywhere. As much as possible, stick to your regular sleep habits. Make time to get to your usual exercise class or training session. You feel more grounded if you can keep your familiar routines.
3. Plan ahead, and be sure to leave time to accomplish everything. Stores are busy, traffic can be unpredictable, and you have more on your to-do list than usual. Don’t expect to fly through that list as you might at another time of the year, and above all – don’t blame yourself if outside circumstances derail your carefully-made plans. You’re doing the best you can, and you have a lot to do. That said…
4. Keep it simple, sweetheart. Be realistic about what is actually necessary. Step back and look at the big picture. Bigger is not always better, and the little details you’re stressing about now are quite likely things you won’t even notice once the holiday events are underway. The perfect napkins, the cute holiday craft you saw on Pinterest, the hard-to-find wine that was recommended to accompany your seafood charcuterie appetizer platter. Assess the ratio of “how much work something is” to “how much lasting joy it will provide”, and choose accordingly
5. Finally – gifts. Refer to #4 and KEEP IT SIMPLE. Everyone has a few close family and friends who warrant putting some time and thought into finding that perfect gift. But for the vast majority of people on your list, gift cards are the way to go. If your immediate reaction is that they’re too impersonal, think again. People like getting gift cards. They get to choose exactly what they want, which they can always do better than you can (sorry!) You can buy them all in one place (like the supermarket) or online. No wrapping involved, cut down on shipping costs if you’re mailing presents, no need to lug an extra bag of presents home across the city (or even the country) after spending holidays with family. However, if you’re absolutely set on coming up with a personalized gift, choose an experience over an object. Give something that you and your friend or family member will do together sometime after the holidays are over – tickets to a show, a cheese-making workshop, day at the spa – connection is built on shared experiences, and memories last longer than sweaters.
There are lots of tips out there for keeping yourself physically healthy over the holidays. As important as that is, supporting your mental health and well-being is even more important. A happy and grounded you means being able to enjoy the holidays to their fullest.
I wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.