10 Tips to De-stress This Holiday Season

We're officially entering the holiday season—that whirlwind of gift-giving, holiday parties, and baking galore that starts right after Halloween, builds to Thanksgiving, and continues throughout the rest of the year.
This time can be stressful for some. In fact, a 2022 study from Sesame found that 2 in 5 Americans feel their mental health is negatively impacted by the holidays. But where is all the stress coming from?
The study found that the rise in inflation (38 percent), gift shopping (19 percent), handling "difficult family dynamics" (15 percent), and the COVID-19 pandemic (9 percent) were the top reasons for stress last year. Luckily, the one good thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable. We can plan ahead to help reduce our stress and the negative impact it has on us.

That's why we've put together a list of ways you can manage your stress levels this holiday season—so you can enjoy your time spent with loved ones and make the most out of the holidays.

1. Understand that no one — including yourself — is perfect

It's pretty common to set the bar high during the holidays. We often have big expectations for events and celebrations, and we're left feeling disappointed when things don't turn out the way we planned. But it's ok if it's not perfect—it's actually healthy and normal if things don't go exactly as planned. After all, you can't predict the future.

Before you start gearing up for events this year, acknowledge and accept that things might not play out exactly how you imagined—it might be difficult to let those thoughts go, but it only takes a little practice, and you'll have a huge weight lifted off your shoulders.

2. Show kindness to yourself and others

Kindness goes a long way these days. And although you might not be able to change how people act when they're stressed during the holidays, you can change how you respond. If you begin to feel tension with someone, take a few moments or deep breaths before responding. Remember, it's important to respond rather than react. You never know what someone else might be going through; their behavior could be a response to other stressors that are going on in their life.

No matter what holiday obligations you have going on throughout the week, take some time each day to be kind to yourself. It's important to keep taking care of yourself, whether it's practicing mindfulness exercises, working out, or engaging in one of your favorite hobbies.

3. Remember what actually matters

It's very easy for us to get caught up in the hustle and bustle each year and forget what the holiday season is all about—gratitude and spending time with loved ones. When you're feeling overwhelmed over long shopping lines or bumper-to-bumper traffic, take a second and think about the bigger picture. Does this really matter in the grand scheme of things?

A long line is simply that—a long line. Don't let small stressors add up and completely spoil your day. You could even transform your frustrations into something more positive. If you're going to be stuck in traffic for an extra 20 minutes, put on your favorite podcast or an audiobook to distract yourself and pass the time.

4. Stick to a budget

We know how easy it is to spend money during the holidays. We typically like to go all out for our friends and family, whether it's buying lavish gifts or hosting elegant dinner parties. But, it's important to stick with a solid budget each year so you know exactly what you can afford to spend on food and gift shopping—especially with the rise of inflation. This way, you'll avoid any surprises in your finances when the new year rolls around.

To save a few extra dollars on gifts, you can always opt for homemade presents, donate to a charity in someone else's name, or set up a family gift exchange.

5. Plan things ahead of time

The holiday season is busy for a reason—you're on the go, 24/7. Whether you're decorating, going out with friends, running errands, working out, or gift shopping, there's always something going on. Set aside certain days for all of these activities—trying to accomplish everything in one day will only add to your stress.

Plan your menus out ahead of time, as well as your grocery lists. This will (hopefully) prevent you from forgetting to pick up ingredients at the store. And shop online for items whenever possible; this will save you a trip to the store and give you more time to focus on other things.

6. Learn to say "no"
It can be difficult to say "no" to our friends and family, we all know that. But if we don't, we're often stretched too thin. Saying "yes" to everything can also leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed, which is the opposite of how you want to feel during the holidays.
Your friends, colleagues, and family will all understand if you can't show up to every event or holiday party. If there's something you must do or attend, take something else off your plate to fit it into your schedule. Don't try to tackle everything at the same time.
7. Keep up with healthy habits
If there's one time to fall off track with your exercise routine and healthy eating habits, it's definitely the holiday season. It's totally ok to indulge in the festive treats, hot cocoa, and eggnog—just don't overdo it. Going overboard will only make you feel guilty and add to your stress.
Here are a few things you can do to stay on top of your healthy habits:
— Eat healthy snacks before holiday meals to avoid overindulging on sweets and drinks.
— Get plenty of rest and stay hydrated.
— Keep up with regular physical activity like yoga, walking, or weight lifting.
— Avoid excessive alcohol and tobacco use.
8. Make time for yourself
Setting aside some alone time is probably one of the biggest challenges people face during the holidays. It's more fun to go out with friends, skip your morning yoga routine to sleep in, and order takeout instead of meal prepping. But, you don't have to completely give up your social life to make time for yourself.
Setting aside just 15 minutes a day for self care during the busy holiday season can make a big difference. Try going for a walk during your lunch break, meditating in the morning, or reading a few chapters of a book before bed to give yourself some uninterrupted time to de-stress.
9. Reach out to loved ones
If you're feeling lonely or isolated during the holidays—which is common for many people—reach out to friends, family members, and colleagues. If it's difficult to spend time together in person, set up a reoccurring video chat date or give them a quick phone call. Connecting with others will make you feel less alone and stressed out during the holiday season.
It's also the best time of year to get out and volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to help others, but it will also allow you to meet more people and make new friends, and feel more connected to your community.
10. Set aside your differences
Try your best to accept friends and family members as they are, even if they get under your skin or don't live up to your expectations. Set aside your frustrations and grievances, and be understanding if others become upset or stressed out. There's a time and a place to hash out and solve your problems with loved ones, and it's not during the holidays.
Chances are, your family members and friends are feeling stressed, too, and it's best to just give them grace and focus on what's most important: spending time with each other.
We hope these 10 tips will help you manage your health and wellness during the hectic holiday season, and allow you to make wonderful memories and enjoy time with loved ones.

 At OnSite Wellness, health and wellness is our specialty. Incorporating a wellness program at your workplace can have massive benefits for your employees in managing their health. Contact us to learn more!