I remember so many holiday seasons that ended in total burn-out. I thought if I could do just a little bit more than everyone around me, I would have the perfect holiday experience. Of course, a little bit more always turned into way too much. I spent more, said yes to everything, and to make up for all the stress I created, I ate and drank more to ease the pain of over-committing. The new year would roll around and I would be deeper in debt and more discontent than the year before.
If you’ve ever gotten sick or felt run down over the holidays, you’ve experienced the fallout of holiday stress. If you tend to overdo it during the holidays (or anytime), or if you are just interested in taking extra good care of yourself, try one of these 12 simple ideas. Many of these recommendations can be done with the whole family and some of them are just for you.
- Morning routine. Wake up before the kids when possible. Your morning routine might only be five minutes long to start, but even that will help. Use the time to sit quietly with a cup of tea, meditate, journal, walk, or do other activities that feed your body, mind, heart, and soul.
- Candlelight. Turn on gentle music and light a few candles. You don’t need a special occasion to create a calm, relaxing environment for yourself and your family. As the days get darker, add light to your day.
- Take a walk. Go outside and take a walk. Bundle up if it’s cold and head out with the intention of noticing the magic. Don’t worry about burning calories or tracking steps, just enjoy yourself.
- Respect your budget. Once you figure out what you can spend on extras like holiday gifts, events, and other holiday things, honor that. If you splurge now, you pay even more later.
- Opt-out. When/if you are buying gifts, decline to leave your email address with a merchant. If shopping online, check out as a guest and don’t accidentally subscribe to email lists. They make it really easy for you to opt-in, but you’ll save the stress of future sales and shopping promos arriving daily in your inbox by opting out.
- One in, one out. Stay clutter-free or, at the very least, avoid adding to your clutter by sticking with a one in, one out rule. For each thing that comes in, another goes out. Apply this rule to gifts, clothing, and decorations.
- Only decorate with your favorite things. If you’ve been accumulating holiday decor for years or decades, chances are your most meaningful, favorite things don’t get a chance to stand out. Start by only decorating with your favorite items instead of all the things. If that resonates with you, box up the rest or donate it. You may love the simpler holiday wonderland you create.
- Un-schedule. Make room for holiday magic to unfold and cancel some of your planned activities. Downtime eases stress for you and the whole family.
- Re-gift. Finding the perfect gift is often stressful and expensive. Instead, find a meaningful gift. Give a friend your favorite book and write something to them on the inside cover. Give someone a beautiful vase you never use full of flowers, or look for other things you can pass on with love.
- Make something. Be creative. Write a poem, start a book, get out the finger paints and a big piece of paper and express yourself. Make. Create. Enjoy the process with no expectations.
- Breathe. Frustrated? Breathe in. Breathe out. Worried? Breathe in. Breathe out. Overwhelmed? Breathe in. Breathe out. Confused? Breathe in. Breathe out. Exhausted? Breathe in. Breathe out. Start there and you can often avoid overthinking and overreacting.
- Be grateful. Directing more of our attention towards gratitude for the things that make our lives wonderful is scientifically proven to make us healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious, and help us get better sleep. Create a holiday gratitude poster that everyone can contribute to by writing down something they are grateful for each day.
After many years of simplifying my life, I discovered that more isn’t the answer. The answer to more connected, joyful holidays is less. Take care of yourself over the holidays. It’s the best gift you can give yourself and everyone you love.
QUESTION: What are the holiday stress points for you? Are there any you can simplify or eliminate?
CHALLENGE: Choose one of the 12 ideas above to implement this week to make your holiday season more calm and joyful.
Edited by Nollie Haws.
Image from Pixabay; graphic by Anna Jenkins.