The holiday season is all about fun and merriment, but if we're being honest, it can get intense. A towering to-do list, complicated family dynamics, and excess everything can get overwhelming and stressful before you know it. Too often we get swept up in the whirlwind of activities and get sidetracked from the habits and routines that keep us happy and heathy in our daily life. But it's totally possible to both win at the holidays and do it in a way that won't make you feel depleted.
Here's how to stay sane during the holiday season.
1. Take time for yourself
'Tis the season for giving, but the holidays are the time when it's easy you get extra stressed out from over-giving. If you already have a habit in your daily life of committing too much to others, this season will kick those tendencies into high gear. Maxing out emotionally and physically can be a real side effect of all the holiday cheer if you don't take time to recharge. Schedule an evening by yourself that's just about rest and relaxation. Take a bath, read a book, meditate, or just go to bed early.
2. Don't wait until the last minute
Whether it's shopping, cooking, or decorating, it's a good idea to get ahead of the game as much as possible. After you've made your list of everything you have to buy or do, map out a plan. It may feel super overwhelming in your head, but when you break it down (and even figure out where you may be able to delegate to others), the whole thing will feel much more approachable. Getting a head start will also help your budget, because you'll be less likely to go for those frantic impulse buys at the cash register.
3. Make a to-do list
When you start to feel overwhelmed, break down your tasks into manageable lists that you can tackle one by one. It will make everything so much easier and will keep you on track. Cross each line item off after you finish it, and give yourself a pat on the back when you're finished so you have a sense of accomplishment.
4. Have fun, but be prepared
With one cocktail party after another, the celebratory vibe of this season can put a real drain on you body. Excess alcohol, sugar, and carbs will leave you feeling bloated and tired, and will make your January gym resolutions that much harder. Counteract the dehydrating effects of one-too-many-cocktails with lots of fresh water and healthy, protein-rich food when you're not in party mode. Don't start out at an event when your stomach is growling (it's a little like grocery shopping when you're famished). Have a nourishing snack before you hit the Xmas party circuit and you'll make better choices at the cheese platter.
5. Draw healthy boundaries with your loved ones
The holidays can be a challenging time when it comes to dealing with family members, especially if you're already feeling overwhelmed. Old patterns and relationship dramas can pop up again before you know it. Make sure to be clear with family members about your needs and boundaries and open up the channels of communication as best as possible. If someone triggers you, it's a good idea to take a deep breath, walk away for a few minutes (even just go into the bathroom) and step out of the conversation. You'll both feel better afterwards!
6. Move Your Body
In this season of indulgence, it's super important to keep up your regular physical activity to balance your mind, body, and spirt. Take time to exercise—whether it's a HIIT class or just a brisk walk—to help bring stress levels down. In addition to boosting your serotonin levels, interactive exercise (think touch football or a Zumba class) can also be a fun bonding activity with your S.O. or family member when you've been stuck in the house for too long.
7. Get out in nature
Christmas shopping is always a little stress-inducing, from dealing with crowds at department stores to overloading on online purchasing. Take a break from the consumer craziness with some fresh air, whether it's a hike in the woods or just a bundled-up stroll through a park. The slower pace and lack of screens (try to take a break from your phone as well) will help you come back to your senses.
8. Let go of perfection
When you feel yourself starting to go down the rabbit hole of stress around the holidays, take a step back and reevaluate. Is it really that important to get the perfect glass-blown ornament for your Christmas tree or a specific hard-to-find cheese for your appetizer spread? While big dinners and gatherings are a highlight of this time of year, the endless details are not worth losing sleep over. Take stock of what really matters—spending time with loved ones—and don't compare yourself to anyone else.