Here we go: we’re at the top of the roller coaster about to plummet straight into the hustle and bustle of holiday season! Some years it feels like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s aren’t so much festive celebrations as anxiety-inducing events I have to white-knuckle my way through.
So how did the season of gratitude and love become rife with stress and panic? For me, social pressure and my own unnecessarily high standards resulted in way too much worry over getting things “right.” But when I finally become aware of how the anticipation of the holidays negatively affected my actual experience of the holidays, I was able to let go of perfection and immerse myself in the fun.
I encourage you to do the same thing and transform the way you navigate these final few months of the year. Not sure how to start? Here are seven ways to find calm during a chaotic holiday season:
1. Find Your Focus
Before you launch into go-mode, take a deep breath and consider what the holidays are really all about. It may feel like parties, treats, and gifts are the sole motivators for surviving the season, but remember the things that truly matter: friends, family, kindness, and love (and okay, good food doesn’t hurt).
2. Stick to a Schedule
The quickest way for me to go nuts is to get off track with my regular routine. To avoid crankiness, I stick as closely to my regular eating and moving schedules as possible. That means, even during that notoriously indulgent break between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I maintain business as usual when I can. My Fitbit tracker is super helpful here—it allows me to keep logging my workouts and sleep, and the consistent reminders to move (and breathe!) make a big difference.
3. Make Sleep a Priority
I have a tendency to stay up late during the holidays, trying to get everything done. But the best thing I can do is get a good night’s sleep and leave any outstanding tasks until the morning. That endless list of to-dos is always there when I wake up and I’m so much more prepared to tackle it when I’m not groggy.
4. Go Easy on the Booze
Party pooper alert! I know, I know, but I’m not saying you should ban all adult beverages; you should just know your limits. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it not only disrupts your sleep, but it wreaks havoc on your body and brain the next day—and don’t get me started on how it lowers your inhibitions, leading to everything from overeating to accidental gossip at the dinner table. Pre-select which events you feel are worthy of a drink, and imbibe wisely (no, you can’t choose all days ending in Y).
5. Stay Grateful
Here I go with the cliches, but…If I stay in a space of gratitude, I look at every event as an opportunity as opposed to a responsibility. So much of life is what goes on between our ears, and if we can influence our thoughts to be positive, then why not do everything possible to swing things in our favor?
6. Recognize the Insanity
Let’s face it, no matter how Zen we try to be, the holidays are just kind of crazy-making. And that’s okay! Acknowledge the chaos, confide in a friend, cry it out if you have to, and then hit the reset button. I personally rely on 5-minute meditation breaks to maintain my sanity. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or formal—sometimes just sitting in my car in the mall parking lot, focusing on my breath with the Relax feature on my Fitbit tracker, is enough to get re-centered.
7. When All Else Fails…Hide
This might sound silly, but hiding is one of my go-to coping strategies—and I know I’m not the only one! I’m not talking about a week-long escape to a private island (although that sounds amazing)—I mean grabbing a moment to myself somewhere in my house, away from all the friends, family, kids, and plus-ones. An abundance of loved ones is incredibly special, but it can also feel super intense, so hiding out for a few minutes can bring sweet relief. I highly recommend integrating your own mini hiding sessions into the holiday season—you’ll feel like you’re getting away with a sneaky secret, and the moment of peace will replenish your spirit (and patience).
Here’s to your health, happiness, and a stress-free holiday season!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.