Unfortunately, it isn’t uncommon to hear people talk about the woes of holiday stress. Although it’s meant to be an enjoyable time, for many, this isn’t the case. Instead, it’s the root cause of anxiety and stress that’s difficult to overcome until it’s over.

But you shouldn’t have to spend the holidays stressed out and worrying about a long to-do list. It should be a time to spend with loved ones, have meaningful conversations, express gratitude, and plan for the year ahead. 

If you want to manage the stress you feel during the holiday season, here are 4 simple tips to help you get started.

Learn to Say No

When you feel under pressure, it can be difficult to tell people no. You don’t want to let them down or ruin their expectations. But it’s also not fair for others to put you in a situation where you feel like you can’t turn them down.

It might be difficult, but it’s crucial to learn how to say no. In doing so, you set healthy boundaries and communicate where you draw the line. People won’t know your boundaries until you tell them, so don’t worry about being honest.

For example, let’s say a family member asks you to make a few extra dishes to bring to dinner. You’re already overwhelmed with work, family, and other commitments and know that saying yes will lead to a sleepless night and a tired morning. Instead of trying to make everyone happy, saying “no” to their request saves you time and energy. In the long run, you’re doing yourself a favor and teaching others how to treat you.

Shop Online

Shopping in crowded areas adds to the stress of the holidays. People are frantic to purchase the perfect gifts for loved ones and smaller stores start to feel claustrophobic. And with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s wise to stay away from brick and mortar stores as long as they’re packed with people.

It’s easy to take advantage of online shopping as long as you do it well ahead of time. From the comfort of your home, you can browse tons of options, research ratings and reviews, and choose the perfect gifts for family and friends. You’ll likely also get exclusive discounts and deals you otherwise wouldn’t receive in person.

Get Enough Sleep

Because the end of the year is generally more hectic, many people lose sleep or fall off their sleeping patterns. Various studies prove that getting enough sleep is essential for your health. Not doing so can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and poor mental health.

If you struggle to sleep well during the holidays, try to:

  • Sleep in a dark room. Sunlight can disturb your sleep schedule and throw it off track. Blackout curtains are a great option if your bedroom gets a lot of sunlight or doesn’t block it enough.
  • Exercise. When you’re physically wiped out, your body needs the rest to rejuvenate, making physical activity great for getting sleep.
  • Stay off your phone. Staring at a bright screen before bed keeps your mind active and makes it difficult to relax. The same goes for other electronic devices like television or laptops. 
  • Listen to relaxing music. Music can have great calming effects on your brain and make it easier to fall asleep. There are several YouTube playlists made specifically for nighttime relaxation you can try.

Remember What Matters

If the holidays feel like a burden or an overwhelming task, then it might be time to revisit what they’re really about. When you think of them, what comes to mind? 

The holidays are supposed to be about spending time with loved ones, enjoying good food and company, and relaxing away from the stressors of everyday life. But if they also bring you stress and anxiety, then take the time to think about why that is.

If this time of year is more dreadful than enjoyable, then it’s time to make some changes, and that starts with your mindset. Shift your focus to family, friends, and what you feel thankful for. Revisit what you’ve accomplished in the last year and how you’ll continue to thrive into the next. Remember your values and what truly matters to you.

If it’s easier, keep a gratitude journal to write down what you’re grateful for during this time. When you’re feeling low, looking at these points can help you focus on the important things.

Over to You

The holidays should be a time to enjoy with loved ones. If you spend it feeling down, stressed, or anxious, you need to make the necessary changes to improve the situation. These tips should be a starting point to help you realign your priorities and concentrate on essential things. How will you manage stress this holiday season?