The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. But if you’re not careful, stress can ruin the celebration and damage your overall health. The dizzying array of demands – from shopping to hosting to travel logistics to dealing with in-laws – can put a serious damper on an otherwise festive season. Introducing: the holiday stress relief guide – so you can not only survive the holidays, but enjoy them to the fullest.
Going home for the holidays? Join the club. In November and December, a record-breaking number of Americans are hitting the roads and flying the skies – all to be home for the holidays. And traveling can do a number on your nerves.
One of the biggest causes of travel stress is the fear of forgetting something – whether it’s as small as a toothbrush or as big as missing an entire name on Santa’s list. To combat forgetfulness, start with a packing list, or better yet, use the PackPoint app, which takes into consideration your travel plans and offers suggestions on what to pack.
The cost of traveling can also be a stressor during the holidays. Be sure to study up on different forms of transportation (planes, trains, buses, and cars) to get the best deal. This also may be a good time to put your travel rewards points to work!
While spending time with family is meant to be a joy, some select family members rub everyone the wrong way. (You know the aunt or uncle we’re talking about.) From dealing with group holiday activities to sleeping over at the in-laws’ house, there are plenty of opportunities for family to become an unnecessary cause of stress.
Plan activities to shake off the cabin fever. Yes, you want to spend time with family. But that doesn’t mean you need to be in the same room with them every waking minute. Instead, plan for solo time away from the family. Go shopping, take a walk in a nearby park, or even sneak away to read a chapter of a book. Reading fiction is proven to reduce stress.
In some cases, it makes sense to stay at a hotel instead of the 1987 pull-out couch, allowing you to keep some much-needed breathing room between you and certain family members. This way, after spending the day interacting with them, you can retire to the comfort of your quiet hotel. And don’t be afraid to make the most of this time. Get a massage on demand from Zeel; they’ll to come to you and work out whatever holiday stress the in-laws have put on your shoulders.
Instead of traveling for the holiday season, you may be opening your doors to family and friends. But between meal prepping, cleaning the house, and finding places for everyone to sleep, hosting is enough to give anyone a holiday headache.
When planning out the holiday dinner, consider catering some of the meal. At Whole Foods, for instance, appetizers, side dishes, and even warm holiday meals can be ordered in advance, ready for pickup. This is a great option for simplifying your meal planning.
And don’t be afraid to ask the family for help. A holiday potluck is one of the best ways to get people involved and share the weight of the big dinner. Perfect Potluck is an app for organizing the family’s potluck, allowing you to set a list of specific needs for a meal and divvy up responsibilities among guests. Combine this app with a little bit of organizational skill, and your hosting stress is sure to melt away.
As far as planning out sleeping arrangements, don’t take on more people than you can handle. A single night in a sleeping bag may not be a big deal for the kids, but elderly relatives deserve a comfortable bed of their own for restful holiday sleep. When there’s no vacancy at home, look to sites like Airbnb to find houses in your area. It will give your family the personal touch of a home while keeping them from piling up in your living room.
Purchasing gifts for everyone can be an unrealistic expectation, especially if you have a large family. Not only do you have to worry about the costs, but there’s also the time commitment of finding the perfect gift for each relative.
For larger families, consider having a simple gift exchange. Through sites like Elfster, you can set spending limits, so one person doesn’t get a digital camera while another gets a picture frame. Family members can also add wish lists, allowing people to actually receive something they want.
When purchasing gifts for several people, consider a meaningful gift card for an in-home massage. A massage gift certificate will simplify the amount of time you have to spend shopping during the busiest season of the year. And with many benefits for your body and mind, a massage is a great way to show lovd ones that you care.
Sometimes, there’s a weird expectation to be permanently jolly during the holidays. This expectation can cause your time with family and friends to be less enjoyable. Hold the Bah Humbugs – here’s how you can be just as cheerful (or at least, reduce the pressure).
While the holidays are known as the season for giving, make sure you spend some time reflecting and thinking about your own needs, too. While it may sound strange, tell yourself that uninterrupted happiness isn’t a realistic state, even during the holidays. You have a wide variety of emotions, and if you try to force happiness every second of the season, you may end up causing more harm than good.
If you want to relax your smile muscles for a bit, take a mental health break from the family excitement. For some, this will be as simple as going for a walk in the morning or evening. For others, it will be a round of golf, a mani-pedi or an in-home massage – but spending time on yourself can help you unwind and improve your mental wellness. It will also make your interactions with family more sincere and relaxing.
A cheat day is fine now and again, especially during the holiday feast. But if November and December are just a montage of bonbons, buttered rolls, and honey ham, it’s going to have some negative effects on your body. The overabundance of food causes the average American to gain about one pound during the holidays. And if you’re not careful, these habits can follow you into the New Year.
If you’re hosting holiday festivities or bringing food for a family gathering, make a dish that’s healthy and filling. This way, you’ll have at least one option that keeps you honest.
Sometimes, the stress of a holiday event can also cause a person to spend their time eating more than they should, especially when holiday parties have high-calorie hors d’oeuvres and sugary drinks. To combat this, keep a glass of water or seltzer in your hand when you’re walking around the house. This will keep your hands occupied and help fight the urge to reach for the nearest bacon-wrapped date.
For some, the holidays can be a lonely time. Without a place to go or a family to see, not having a celebration can also be a cause of anxiety. There are also many people who live a continent away from their family members – making this festive season less special.
If you can’t be with your family, find local friends or community members to throw a holiday celebration together. Lots of people don’t have places to go during the holidays, and reaching out to them will make everyone feel a little warmer this season. And if being physically with friends or family isn’t an option, pick up the phone and call each of them – or set a Skype date and can catch up over a virtual cup of hot cocoa.
Activities can also be a way to keep yourself occupied. Pamper yourself with a mobile massage, volunteer at your local shelter, go for a hike, visit a museum – find something that keeps you active.
Crowds and congestion
Black Friday marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season, and from then until the New Year, stores are often filled to the brim with shoppers. Being in close quarters with so many people can make anyone frustrated.
Avoid the stressful crowds by doing your shopping online. The majority of gifts can now be purchased online, in advance or on-the-fly, and even more specific buys – like shoes – can now be sized and customized over the internet.
If you must go to the store, make sure you have your entire shopping list ready. In most cases, it makes sense to plan out the gifts you’re purchasing ahead of time. This will keep you focused, rather than meandering around the mall for more hours than necessary. Start with Gifted, an app that helps you keep track of shopping lists on your phone.
And of course, if you’re looking for a last-minute gift that keeps on giving, consider a Zeel gift card that’s as on-demand as the massage itself.
Enjoy the holidays
Holiday stress can often feel overwhelming, but there are plenty of opportunities to alleviate the anxieties of the season. Take your holidays back with this guide to staying sane.