Picture-perfect holiday activities are quite the antidote to stress: cozy days shared with loved ones, singing favorite tunes, eating nourishing foods from the harvest, and getting some exercise on the skating rink all contribute to mental well-being.
But whose holidays are ever truly “perfect”? Here’s how to navigate four common holiday stressors so you can fully reap the seasonal joys and benefits.
We cram events, responsibilities, and obligations into a relatively short time period, which comes at the expense of having less downtime for rest and rebalancing. When all is well, you might enjoy baking your specialty spice cake, but if you get a request to bring it to a party while you’re knee-deep in a to-do list longer than the paper itself, baking that cake might feel more like a burdensome chore than a sweet treat.
To avoid feeling resentful or overwhelmed, confront the issue head-on. Consider sharing how you’re feeling with the person who’s put forward the request. Practising these boundaries and putting self-care into action may be uncomfortable, but a true friend will honor your feelings and help you lighten your burden.
We tout “generosity” as an ideal to embody during the holidays. But this time of year, a lot of us do so to a fault. While there’s nothing better than seeing a smiling face opening your carefully chosen present, feeling angst until your credit card bill is finally paid off in March is no way to start the New Year.
Approach holiday spending with a strict budget before you set one foot in the store—or make one click online! Then consider paying with cash to save you trepidation when your credit card bill arrives.
Whether you’re avoiding a certain aunt who demands to know when you plan to have a baby, or you’re striving to keep political conversations respectful at the dinner table, navigating extended family get-togethers can sometimes feel like playing “the floor is lava.”
If your family isn’t your true cup of tea, surround yourself with people who get you, and take joy in those holiday visits. And when you are with your family, honoring firm boundaries about which conversation topics you’ll discuss and which activities you’ll avoid might be the greatest act of self-care when you’re all crammed in the same house for hours or days at a time.
As we all learn more about what makes our bodies happy (such as adhering to our individual food sensitivities), what you eat on a regular day might look vastly different from your sister’s diet, for instance. So, when everyone gathers and attempts to eat the same meal, things can get a little tricky.
Whether you identify as gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, vegan, keto, or the like, bringing your own gravy, protein source, or dessert can help you be part of the meal while nourishing your body with food that makes you feel good.
Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take the life out of your holidays. So, take a deep breath every now and then this season, and remember, choosing joy can make all the difference.