By: Meghaa Ravichandran
With the advent of December, many of us are excited for the holidays as it is a time for commemorating family and being grateful for the love and joy we have around us. With all the family reunions and celebrations happening at the end of the year, it is not unusual for many of us to be stressed as we might have a lot on our plate. Decorating the house, shopping for presents, and traveling might present additional responsibilities we might not be ready for. Furthermore, we might be experiencing grief over the holidays as we mourn a loved one in the midst of all the celebrations. During these stressful times, it is important for us to take a quick breath and remember that it is okay if expectations are not met or if the to-do list is not completed by the end of the day.
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As December approaches, with it comes National Stress-Free (Family) Holiday Month. To keep the holiday celebrations as relaxing as possible, try to lighten the workload on yourself and following these quick tips:
- Stay hydrated
- Get six to eight glasses of water in your day to stay hydrated. It’s easy to forget in all the holiday chaos, but drinking water helps prevent dehydration, allows for clearer thinking, and keeps your body cool in extreme heat or chilly temperatures. It can be helpful to keep daily reminders on your calendar or keep your water bottle near you as you navigate through your day.
- Practice mindfulness, patients, and forgiveness
- Be kind to yourself! If you make a mistake in preparing for a big holiday event or in keeping up with a booked calendar, remember that it’s important that you enjoy yourself and that not everyone is perfect. Take a few minutes and watch short mindfulness videos on Youtube or free apps like UCLA mindful. Practice breathing and relaxing your muscles using the TIPPs method as well.
- Find time to exercise or do self-care
- Exercising is one way to maintain your physical and mental health. You can try to get your heart rate up through a daily run, at-home cardio, or by hitting the gym! Practice your favorite sports for 30 minutes or go power-walking as you do your daily errands. Self-care is also important in recentering and appreciating ourselves. Take 10 minutes to do your favorite hobby and spend time outdoors when possible. Doing something we enjoy on a stressful day can help us find the motivation to continue.
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- Spend time with loved ones
- The holidays are a time meant to be spent with loved ones, so try to connect with them virtually or in-person! This could be your siblings, your friends, or anyone you think is family or is special to you. Spending time with people who love us can lessen the impact seasonal depression or loneliness may have during these winter holidays.
- Manage your time wisely
- Keep realistic expectations of what you hope to accomplish in a day. The holidays are a marathon, not a sprint. Try to divide up your responsibilities across a week or a month, and start preparing for big holiday events a few weeks in advance. If you are short on time, prioritize what you want to finish first, so the most important tasks are done quickly. Try not to overcommit yourself and remember to take a breather. Keeping a calendar or planner (online or on paper) will be helpful so you don’t forget important dates!
- Avoid crowds
- If you’re someone who is introverted or is easily stressed, try to avoid crowds this holiday season. Remember to think virtually – shopping online or celebrating reunions online is a completely valid method of honoring the holidays! If you do have to stay in traffic or shop in crowded malls, try to keep the trips short and carve out some time for you to decompress. Noise-canceling headphones here may help too.
- Get enough sleep before a big day
- Get eight or more hours of sleep to stay rested on your big day! If you have to wake up early for preparations, try to go to bed earlier. To get into a relaxed mood before bed, read a good book under warm lighting, make yourself a cup of hot cocoa, or watch a favorite movie!
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Don’t let the holiday season sneak up on you, but if it does, always remember to put yourself and your mental health first before taking part in the celebrations! As we usher in the new year, reflect on some accomplishments that you’re proud of and make some new goals for improvement that you want to focus on. Even if this year contained any difficult times, remember that we are always changing as people and can create new moments of happiness to celebrate in the future. As we wrap up 2022, remember to always practice kindness for yourself in National Stress-Free Holidays Month!