Healthy Living

Tinsel in a Tangle? Don’t Let Stress Spoil the Season

Dec. 5, 2014
We waited all year for the holiday season, but is it becoming a bit too much? Does the prep sap your energy, dominating the lead-up to the celebration?What if, rather than focusing on the “big finish” or making a future moment perfect, we slowed down and made a point of enjoying the season—stress, shopping, and all?woman holding a tangle of Christmas tree lights
Being proactive in managing stress and practicing mindfulness—being “in the moment” or “tuning in”—can help.
While you can’t buck those time-intensive traditions altogether (bah, humbug!), you can find ways to enjoy the planning, and the season, itself.
Here are a few tips for unwinding during the holiday hubbub:
  • Set the tone. Light a spicy fragranced candle or whip up a special hot drink before setting to work on a wrapping or baking bonanza. It’ll set a cheerful tone to help make those must-do chores part of the fun, rather than something to rush through. Or set a time limit for your project and stick to it, then reward yourself with the hot drink while you curl up with a book or watch that TV show you DVR’ed weeks ago and haven’t had one second to view.
  • Make it social. You’ll split the work when you invite pals to tag along and—as a bonus—that task you’ve been avoiding transforms into a special gathering.
  • Slow down. Dodge the post-holiday let-down by letting up on the gas now. Pause to enjoy the aromatic sensation of baking, the textures and colors of fancy wrapping supplies, the glitter of lightsin your neighborhood. If you want to treasure vivid memories of the season, you have to slow down and take time to wonder afresh at the beauty. It takes concentration, but it’s worth the effort.
  • Have a back-up plan. Anticipate situations that stress you out, and think ahead about how to handle them. You might take a 10-minute “time out” to collect your thoughts and calm down, or decide to go for a walk or hit the gym to boost your mood.
  • Just breathe. It sounds simple, but few of us use breathing to counter stress. Taking deep, whole breaths can help you relax, refocus, and slow down.
  • Renew. Think about updating family traditions to fit you and your family today. Even small changes can make the holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable.
  • Catch some Zzzzzzzzzz. Don’t underestimate the power of sleep. When you don't get enough shut-eye, your mind and body can’t recuperate and rejuvenate for the next day.
'Tis the season to remember what's meaningful to you and the important people in your life. Rekindle your spirit by noticing moments of joy and paying them forward.