You may be running on fumes by mid-December. Your schedule is probably a little hectic between buying gifts, decorating, attending holiday parties, cooking, and wrapping up your end-of-year work obligations.
During the holidays, it’s not surprising to find many people’s stress levels increasing rather than decreasing, according to YouGov America. Additionally, one in three Americans will suffer a case of “Festive Burnout” before the 25th of December.
Below are seven tips to help you power on during the holiday festivities.
We can’t do everything we want during this time; let go of what’s not essential to you and focus on what is. If you cannot add to your already over-committed schedule, you should not feel obligated or guilty about doing anything. You shouldn’t worry about others’ judgment; that’s their issue.
Are you stuck with identifying your priorities? “Ideally, these should be the tasks that move you closer to achieving your goals,” explains Calendar co-founder John Hall. “Other factors include urgency, due dates, ROI, or the consequences of not completing the task or project.”
Alternatively, you might want to use a priority matrix, like the Eisenhower Matrix. Using a four-quadrant box, you would list all of your tasks. The next step would be to organize them according to the following:
- Urgent and important. These are your top priorities.
- Important, but not urgent. Schedule these when you have availability.
- Urgent but not critical. These can be delegated to someone else.
- Neither urgent nor important. Drop these from your to-do list and calendar entirely.
2. Be realistic when setting expectations.
The holiday season brings hope of beautiful times with family and friends. For many of us, getting together and creating lasting memories are on our to-do lists.
If that’s true, then why are holidays so stressful?
It is not uncommon for our expectations to be shaped by recollections or the desire to please others by making the holiday picture card perfect. Besides being inaccurate, it’s impossible to live up to this self-imposed standard. To cope with holiday stress, it is crucial to maintain realistic expectations.
Here’s the thing, though. Expectations are tricky. But, to get started, make a realistic to-do list. While being organized is great, it can often seem overwhelming when we realize how much we need to accomplish in a short period of time. So, please list your activities according to their importance to you so you can focus your energy on the most important ones.
3. Rethink rituals.
Spending time and effort on annual family traditions, such as gift exchanges, reunions, and parties, is well worth it. The downside? They also drain your energy.
So go ahead and throw your annual holiday party. But swap out some of the work-intensive aspects for more relaxing ones. Consider turning a big dinner into a potluck, for example, or choosing a theme as a family gift, such as food or books.
Also, don’t worry about people’s judgments. People get so fixated on doing things the way their parents did them. It is better to embrace evolution and start new traditions.
4. Set boundaries and manage your social calendar.
During the holidays, there are often back-to-back events. Due to family and social pressure and responsibilities, it is sometimes hard to “say no” to these events. In a way, that’s understandable. However, you won’t be able to attend every event. Trying will lead to physical or emotional overexertion.
Make sure you plan your social calendar by your limits. If you can’t make something last minute, don’t feel guilty about it. And, don’t agree to something because you fear appearing impolite.
To make this easier, have a list of non-negotiables in advance. These are “the routines or activities that keep you sane,” explains Emily Ballesteros, a burnout management coach.
“There’s often a lack of control this time of year, and it’s common to feel like a victim to your schedule — but that mentality won’t help you fight burnout,” Ballesteros says. “Setting boundaries and checking in with yourself will help you respond instead of reacting to any problems that arise.”
Take a few hours off and recharge your batteries. Taking the time to do this is well worth it. Breaks prevent “decision fatigue,” which occurs when people make too many choices, depleting their mental energy and making poor decisions.
If you practice mindfulness, a type of meditation, and connect with your emotions, you can reduce your stress level in as little as five minutes. Some apps can help with meditation, such as Headspace and Calm.
6. Practice one minute of complete silence daily.
“Make it a practice to spend one minute in complete silence at least once a day and maybe even more frequently,” advises Dr. Michele Neil-Sherwood. With this technique, you can balance your autonomic nervous system with your parasympathetic nervous system.
For one minute, turn off all the noise (even the phone) and sit in silence. Whenever you are in silence, you are creating energy. “It is not always necessary to stimulate to be regenerated; sometimes the best thing to do is just turn everything off,” adds Dr. Neil-Sherwood. As a result, the brain can rest, reorganize itself, and immediately become more engaged in the work at hand.
7. Maintain proper hydration.
In adults, dehydration contributes to fatigue. During the holiday season, your energy is already depleted. Therefore, you do not need to be dehydrated on top of that.
It is also possible for you to feel confused and dizzy due to dehydration. Drinking enough water will help keep your body hydrated, preventing fatigue due to dehydration.
Depending on your age and gender, you should consume different amounts of water every day. According to the Institute of Medicine, men aged 19 and older should drink 3.7 liters of water per day. The recommended daily amount for women aged 19 and older is 2.7 liters.
Foods like lettuce and cucumbers, which are high in water, can also be consumed as a water source.
8. Everything in moderation.
It may be possible for Santa to fit all the cookies in the world in his belly. But we’re not as fortunate. The body’s blood leaves to help digest food, leaving us feeling slow and sluggish after eating a big meal. Sixty percent of a person’s energy is expended during resting metabolism (aka digestion).
As such, if you want abundant energy, digestion should be your top priority, especially during the holidays when gluten-filled desserts and high-fat animal products will stress your digestive system.
To maintain energy levels daily, it is necessary to keep the digestive system moving efficiently. In addition to cleansing the digestive tract, fiber can prevent constipation and backup. You can also support digestion during the holidays by doing the following:
- To stimulate your metabolism, drink lemon water as soon as you wake up.
- Start your day with a fiber-rich breakfast.
- To aid digestion, drink ginger tea after meals.
9. Spend the day out and the night in.
Are you too busy to exercise? No worries. Even during the holidays, there are plenty of ways to stay active, such as:
- If you are shopping in person, take a few extra laps around the mall once you get there or park further away from the store.
- Consider incorporating some holiday activities into your holiday activities by inviting guests to take a stroll outside between meals, taking a walk through light displays, or changing your potluck plans to include skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or skating.
- If working remotely, take your dog for a walk every hour or two.
- It’s easy to exercise while cooking. Over the last few years, kitchen exercises like barre exercises and lunges have become increasingly popular. Try some chair exercises or squats instead of watching the water boil.
Additionally, exercising outdoors gives you more vitamin D and sunlight to enhance your mood.
The opposite is true: a good night’s sleep replenishes energy and helps restore immunity. You become sluggish and vulnerable to overeating and illness if you short yourself.
Keeping your room quiet and adjusting the thermostat to 60-67 degrees will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Before lying down, turn off your phone at least 30 minutes in advance.
Whenever possible, limit the amount of alcohol and caffeine you consume.
You lose energy when you drink alcohol, which is a depressant. As a result, both disrupt sleep, which contributes to fatigue.
10. Find alternative ways to deal with stress.
Chronic stress can affect energy levels by causing chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances. And, as we’ve already mentioned, this happens to be the most stressful time of year.
While regular physical activity, practicing mindfulness, and getting adequate sleep can all help reduce stress, here are some other ways to keep your holiday stress at bay:
- First, have a perfectly imperfect holiday.
- Leave whitespace in your calendar to think, catch up, or attend to emergencies.
- Make, and stick to a holiday budget.
- Go out caroling.
- Smell your favorite holiday scents.
- Learn something.
- Add self-care to your schedule.
11. Stare at the color red.
According to research, we can boost our energy levels fast by looking at the color red. So spend some time browsing a department store or grabbing some red wrapping paper and getting lost in your vision. In addition to wearing something Santa-themed, wearing red can boost our self-confidence, studies have shown.
12. Help others.
During this holiday season, remember the needy – even if you are doing it partly for selfish reasons. When we help others and give back, we release endorphins in our bodies, which are known to combat depression and drowsiness.
Image Credit: JESHOOTS.com; Pexels; Thank you!