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Holidays are supposed to be a time for joy and celebration. But for many people, the holidays can also be stressful and anxiety-inducing. The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to manage your holiday stress and anxiety, so it doesn't prevent you from enjoying yourself with family and friends!
1. Keep Your Regular Routine
Holiday stress can take over your life pretty easily, and if you're not careful, it can send you into an anxiety spin as we set aside all the good habits and things we know are good for us, while making time for the increased work and social commitments.
Don't let the “busy” of the holidays season send you off-course though, your habits are what will keep you GROUNDED in the chaos. Keep up with your regular routine as much as possible.
If you're used to going for a walk or exercising a few times a week, find a way to protect that “you time” at all costs. We always have to say no to something, don’t let it be the things you fill your energy cup with.
And if you want to know how to stay feeling calm and more relaxed - on Christmas morning while everyone else sleeps in, get up early and go for a walk or run outside to clear your mind before the big day!
2. Practice Self-Care
When it comes to self-care, there's no one size fits all approach. Be kind to yourself and listen to your body. If your calendar looks manic with events, block at least 1 or 2 nights at home with NO plans so you can pre-plan some downtime (you’ll thank me for it later!).
Take time for yourself, eat well, and prioritise getting enough sleep—these things will help you feel more rested and energised during these hectic weeks leading up to end of year.
Self-care is also being aware of mentally what you are consuming. If you find yourself staying up late watching TV to “zone out” just do yourself a favour and GO TO BED. Sleep is so much better for you than Netflix.
Or if scrolling social media seeing everyone else’s perfectly curated Christmas tree’s and happy family snaps is making you anxious (or just plain sad and overwhelmed), consider taking a break socials.
Wouldn’t it be amazing to hit the finish line well rested and some mental capacity to enjoy the festivities?
3. Make a Plan and Stay Flexible
If you are a natural planner and organiser that’s great, my suggestion then is to stay flexible. Rigid black and white thinking and “only one way to do this” mentality has caused many a family argument during the holidays.
If you can be flexible in your approach to everything, then you will be less likely to get stressed out by the things that come up.
Aunty Janice could be right, she could well have the stuffing recipe out there – it doesn’t mean yours is any less - you of course could be right too. There are always multiple ways of doing a single thing.
The person with the most flexibility in this situation is going to be the master of their own emotions and have the most fun. Who wants to be held back in judgement about something a simple as a stuffing recipe?! Not me. Janice – do your thing.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Say "No"
You probably like to get involved in everything; you may even have FOMO at times when you don’t have a finger in every pie. But setting healthy boundaries for your time is VERY important at this time of year.
We do not want to take any held resentments into the new year! So, don't let others pressure you into doing things you don't want to do. It is not your job to be everywhere at once and make everyone happy. Saying no is necessary and healthy!
If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the holiday activities on your plate, then ask for help or simply decline an invitation altogether. It's okay, people can respect your decisions just as much as they expect others will respect theirs.
5. Delegate Like a Boss
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, then it’s time to delegate. You do not have to do it all. Remember the saying “Many hands make light work”. People also actually like to help and feel needed, so delegate. Get everyone involved so you don’t feel overburdened by the work that needs to get done.
Everyone knows you can do it all, but you may kill every last bit of energy you have in the process!
6. Let it Be
If you find yourself stuck worrying and pre-empting about all the WHAT IFs of Christmas Day or holiday parties - who’s coming, whether everyone will get along, who will drink to much, or say too much, or start a difficult conversation. This thought process will only ever bring you stress and anxiety, as you cannot control the outcomes of other people.
Let it be. What is going to happen will happen, no matter whether you spend 25 days worrying about what will happen.
Instead, perhaps think about why you are spending time with the people who are important to you and what the highlights of this holiday season are going to be.
And make a game plan, if something does go pear shaped at any event you can take some time out for yourself—go for a walk or listen to some music to regroup.
7. Focus on Gratitude
One of the most effective ways to manage holiday anxiety is to focus on gratitude. By being grateful for what you already have, it helps your mind stay in the present moment instead of way out to far in the future stuck on worry.
You will start feeling less stressed about things that don't matter. Gratitude helps you appreciate the good things in your life, so it's a great way of getting into a more positive mindset.
Once you make it a habit, it'll become second nature and help you feel less stressed through any situation—even if something stressful does happen!
8. Know the Things You Can Control
You can control your energy level, how much sleep you get, what you are eating and drinking, your mindset, your time and your own personal happiness.
You cannot control anyone else, and you are also not 100% responsible for everyone else’s happiness.
When things seem out of control, reassess and reassure yourself that you are doing your best and that this is enough. If it turns out that something did not go perfectly, then accept it and release it!
9. Remember to Have Fun
Let the stress go and remember the holidays are for you to have fun too. Everything will get done that needs to get done. Connect, be present in the little moments and enjoy it. You deserve it, its been a big few years. What is it all for, if it’s not for having fun with the people we love?
10. Ask for Help
Finally, don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. If it’s not fun and everything is too much then please know you don’t have to go through this stress alone. Reach out to a friend, a family member or a professional for support. You deserve much love, peace and joy this time of year :)
Wishing you all the best
About the Author: Janel Briggs is a NLP and Timeline Therapy Practitioner on a mission to support women across Australia and Singapore in healing their professional anxieties, insecurities and imposter syndrome to build unwavering confidence and self-belief. The goal is to level up your life and career by learning how to to live fearless and anxiety free! Connect with Janel on social media via Linkedin or Instagram.