We're also officially in our second pandemic holiday season — it might be the first time many families will gather since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, leaving a lot of us feeling anxious and overwhelmed.
But, you can take a deep breath and relax — we've put together a list of ways you can keep stress levels low so you can make the most out of your holiday season.
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. 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, donating 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 constantly on the go. 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 stress you out more.
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.