The holidays are a time of joy, togetherness and happy gatherings filled with friends, family and love . . . but it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Even good stress (eustress) is still stress. Too much can lead to the same mental, physical, and emotional side effects as bad stress does. With so much to do, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and put self-care on the backburner. It’s important to manage your well-being during this happy, but very busy, time of year.
Let us suggest five core things we can do to mitigate stress and ensure our own minds and bodies are taken care of.
- Set clear boundaries between work and personal life: During the holidays, it’s important to be in the moment. Put your work away when you’re home and don’t check your work email or take work calls during family time. If you’re working from home, set a designated workspace and stick to certain hours for work and leisure time. Setting these boundaries will not only help you focus on your personal life but also avoid burnout and exhaustion.
- Create a holiday schedule: The holiday season can get hectic, but having a schedule can help you stay organized and prevent being overwhelmed. Take some time to plan out your weekends and time off, prioritize important events and appointments, and leave some room for relaxation and self-care. Scheduling personal time is just as important as scheduling work responsibilities and can help you balance your time effectively. The one thing we always have control of if we plan and prepare is ourselves.
- Focus on mental and physical health during the holidays, not after: It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and say “I’ll start exercising again in January.” But prioritizing your mental and physical health is crucial during November and December. Take breaks when you need to, practice mindfulness, and engage in relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing exercises. Whether that means taking a bubble bath, reading a book, spending time with loved ones, or doing a hobby you enjoy, make time in your schedule to prioritize self-care. Aim to get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthy, balanced meals. Think of the common refrain used by the flight crew for emergencies – put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. And remember that it’s okay to say “no” to certain events.
- Build in breaks: Whether you are a “party person” or prefer an early bedtime, give yourself and your houseguests time to rest up. It’s ok if family meals happen later than usual, or if visiting family members need to take a nap. Use that time to rest yourself, too.
- Have Energy Outlets Ready: When families and friends gather together, sitting in front of the TV isn’t a good way to burn off energy caused by stress. Make plans for activities. Identify places to go, such as a playground, bowling alley or state park. Plan board games or crafts in which multiple generations can participate. Preplanning creates the venues where energy can be expended.
The holiday season is a time to celebrate and connect with loved ones, but it’s also important to prioritize your own well-being. By setting clear boundaries, proper planning, focusing on mental and physical health, and making time for self-care, you can enjoy the holidays without the added stress becoming overwhelming. Remember to prioritize yourself during this busy time of year, and your mental and physical health will thank you.