The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful time of the year. It can be difficult to celebrate the magic of the season when you’re prepping your home for guests, running around the mall for gifts, and scraping every last penny out of your bank account to cover holiday expenses. And that’s not even counting the added emotional stress of strained relationships, lost loved ones, family issues, health problems, and more. No matter what your situation is this year, I’m here to let you know that it’s ok to take a break from the holidays. Here are five of my favorite ways to take a little break from the holiday chaos and manage your stress during the holiday season.
How to Manage Stress Around The Holidays
1. Start a new laid-back tradition of your own.
Ever since I found out I was pregnant in January, I’ve been thinking about my baby’s first Christmas. I had grand plans to go all-out with festive decor, mountains of Christmas cookies, and a huge holiday party. Fast-forward to December, and my little one keeps me so busy that I can barely get my hair brushed every day, let alone channel my inner Martha Stewart. Instead of staying up all night working and stressing myself out like I would have in the past, I decided to take a different approach. I put those grand holiday plans on hold for another year, and I started a new, laid-back tradition that will actually be sustainable for years to come.
My husband, daughter, and I skipped out on the fancy plans and hosted a simple breakfast-in-bed and Christmas movie marathon event with our little girl featuring one of our all-time favorite foods: blueberry pancakes. Even though Summer can’t eat pancakes yet, it was so fun to see her giggle as I flipped pancakes at the stove and popped blueberries in my mouth. As a child, I used to beg my mom for a package of blueberries like most kids beg for candy. When I’d been particularly good, she’d treat me to a package of fresh or frozen blueberries, and I would go home and eat the entire thing in one sitting. Years later, I’m still addicted to the sweet and tangy taste of blueberries, and blueberry pancakes are a particularly yummy way to incorporate them into my diet.
The holidays are all about spending time with your loved ones, and this quiet morning was the perfect way to start our Christmas festivities. I loved it so much that I want to make it a weekly tradition! If you’re dreading the stress of a holiday, make a fun new tradition of your own that you can look forward to year after year. Whether it’s indulging in your favorite food, staying in your pajamas all day long, or heading to the beach with a friend, do something that makes you happy!
2. Schedule breaks into your holiday calendar.One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is the non-stop pace. When you have stressful family events scheduled back-to-back on top of work and holiday prep, it can be hard to stay relaxed and enjoy the moment. Next year, consider scheduling a few blocks of time into your schedule where you can sit back and relax. A hot chocolate date with your best friend or a solo trip to the nail salon may not seem like much at the time, but these small moments of peace and quiet will help you recharge before the stress of the next event.
3. Communicate with your loved ones.I know this suggestion may seem simple and obvious, but it’s a total game-changer. So much holiday stress comes from pressure that we put on ourselves. We don’t want to disappoint our family, so we push ourselves past our limits to get everything ready for the holidays. While this additional stress may seem like an inescapable part of the holidays, it’s simply not so.
Take a leap of faith, and talk to your family about how you’re feeling. If money is tight, ask if it’s possible to do a Secret Santa exchange or donate to a family in need instead of buying gifts for everyone in the family. If you’re feeling tired and run-down, let them know you’d love to contribute money towards the Christmas dinner, but you won’t be able to cook this year. If you’re struggling with personal issues that make the holidays a hard time to be happy, let them know how you’re feeling and explain that if you’re not smiling 100% of the time it’s ok.
Communicating your feelings and personal situation will almost always take a load of pressure off your back. Most of the time, the things you were dreading won’t be a big deal at all. Can’t cook? Turns out your aunt wanted to cook anyways! Can’t afford presents? I bet your family is feeling the same way. Just don’t have the energy to host? Your loved ones might be waiting for a turn to host at their home. By communicating your feelings early and often, you can preemptively eliminate all of the potential problems instead of dreading them all season long.
4. Simplify, simplify, simplify.If you’re anything like me, you probably plan at least 4x as many things around the holidays than you’re actually able to execute. It’s easy to create an elaborate holiday plan in your mind that’s impossible to recreate in real life. While it can be fun to go all-out for the holidays, at the end of the day, simple celebrations are just as beautiful. The holiday season is about spending time with and appreciating our loved ones. If you’re able to express your love to those who mean the most to you, you will have succeeded – even if you have to skip or pair down the decor, food, and gifts.
5. Give back.The holiday season is supposed to be the season of giving, so give back to your family and community in any way that you can. Spend time with grandmother and let her know that she’s loved and appreciated. Donate things that you don’t need to a local homeless shelter. Call up your local children’s hospital and see if they need volunteers. By donating your time and energy to others, you’ll gain a sense of gratitude that will make the stress of the season melt away and help you focus on the things that truly matter.
I’d love to know how you take a break from the stress of the holidays. Leave a comment below with your favorite way to reduce stress during the holiday season. If you need an easy way to relieve stress today, definitely considering whipping up a batch of blueberry pancakes. In my opinion, a #BlueberryBreak is always a good idea! Be sure to check out the Blueberry Council’s Instagram account at @littlebluedynamos and Pinterest account at @blueberrylife for more inspiration. If you want to win a #BlueberryBreak of your own, enter to win a $300 Kiehl’s gift card from the US Highbush Blueberry Council through December 31st here!