How to beat the holiday stress

Holiday stress can come in many forms, learn how to combat them here!

  • Beat the holiday stress of overwhelm

  • Beat the holiday stress of difficult conversations

  • Beat the holiday stress of buying gifts

Keep reading to learn more.

Beat the Holiday stress of overwhelm

Between all of the holiday parties, visiting families and friends, potential increased work deadlines, and the increased financial commitments during this time, the holidays can be a stressful time. The Mayo Clinic has a list of ways stress affects our bodies, moods, and behaviors. Some that I know are true for me are headaches, fatigue, anxiety, lack of motivation & focus, overeating, working out less, and social withdrawal. Stress makes me tired, and cranky, neither of which are things I enjoy. Below are a few tips to help you avoid the stress of the holidays.

Practice gratitude. Oprah swears by the practice of gratitude. During hectic times, reminding yourself of the good things happening can decrease stress and increase joy. You can hand-write a list or, like me, use the Grateful app.

Mindfulness. I’ve talk a good bit about mindfulness which is the practice of being in the moment. It’s about focusing on the present instead of the past or the future. During busy times, I’d encourage practicing meditation and mindfulness while driving and shopping. You can do this by not being on your phone and taking in the surroundings. I feel much calmer when I do these things.

Sleep. Sleep is so incredibly important. We can’t function at our best when we are tired. I don’t know about you, but when I am busy, I am more likely to sleep less. During the holiday season, try not to adjust your sleep schedule and get the same amount of sleep you are accustomed to. This amount of rest will give you an additional tool in your toolkit to combat stress.

Monitor your alcohol intake. Holidays often mean lots of parties and get togethers. While those are lots of fun, increased alcohol intake decreases your ability to think clearly and be in control of your thoughts and choices. Have all the fun, just think about how much your drinking.

Beat the Holiday stress of potential difficult conversations

We are in quite a divisive time in our world. I have had conversations with lots of friends who are concerned about the types of conversations they will have with families about difficult topics related to what’s going on in the world. Here are some tips for having some of those potentially challenging conversations.

Remember people are doing the best they can with what they have. Brene reminds us that people are doing the best they can, and that life is easier when you believe this. For me, when I work to believe people’s intentions are not bad, but that they are doing the best they can, I can show up in a very different way and be less abrasive in a potentially difficult conversations. Particularly when you are with family or having conversations about difficult topics, work to remind yourself that your loved ones are doing the best they can and they are allowed to believe what they believe.

Take a deep breath before you respond. When having a difficult conversation, take several deep breaths before responding. That deep breathing engages your prefrontal cortex and decreases your amygdala. Those are fancy words to say deep breaths will calm you down and allow your brain to make more thoughtful decisions.

Create boundaries. If you are in the midst of a difficult conversation and don’t think it is going to have a happy ending, you may have to say “I am not going to have this conversation anymore,” and walk away. Sometimes boundaries are the best way to avoid someone saying something they regret or having hurt feelings.  

“Retrace your path”. The book Crucial Conversations tells us to retrace our paths when having conversations that cause anger, hurt, or sadness. First, notice your behavior and try to assess how you are acting. Next, get in touch with your feelings by asking “what emotions are encouraging me to act this way?” After that, analyze your stories, what do you believe that is making you act this way? Finally, get back to the facts. Focus on what we know for sure and try to separate emotions. This can, hopefully, allow you stay calm during the conversation.

Beat the Holiday stress of buying gifts

Keep your list concise - you don’t need to buy a gift for everyone you know ;)

Start early - it’s November, so feel free to start some shopping now

Be thoughtful but try to buy in bulk - it is nice to personalize gifts as much as you can, but buying gifts in bulk will make your gift buying much easier

Create gift stash - stock up on a few emergency gifts (Bath & Body Works is a great place for this)

Set a budget - this will help decrease the potential financial stress

Homemade vs purchasing - be realistic about how much time you have and what supplies you will need if you are making homemade gifts

Have fun with wrapping - Wrapping presents can be a fun activity that also increases the presentation. Play around with creative and festive wrapping paper or bags!

Mommas, I am talking to you here: if you are planning on buying gifts for your child’s teacher and school staff, try to be reasonable about what you can do. As you are thinking about teachers and staff, remember all of the things above and try not to burden yourself too much. Remember KISS - keep it simple, silly!

List composed by Trivenia Sharp, the other Sharp in Sharp Brain Consulting.