By Adrian Sparrow
The holidays are a time to reflect on the previous year and celebrate with loved ones. Cooking, decorations, gifts, and social activities take up nearly three months of our time every year. For some, it can even spark negative feelings and painful memories. It’s no wonder that people experience a great deal of stress around the holidays. Even if you’re looking forward to the festive season, here are some tips to take care of yourself and avoid burnout during the ‘most wonderful time of the year.’
Practice breathing techniques, journal your thoughts or do a quick workout. When life becomes too overwhelming, it’s essential to take breaks. Still, monitoring stress before it becomes an issue is more manageable than recovering at the end of your rope. Be careful not to overextend yourself, even if you could reasonably handle your schedule outside of the holiday season. Remember that the holidays are a time to rest and reflect on the past year and can be overwhelming—schedule time for yourself to decompress between activities and visits if possible.
Schedule Time for You
You can have every intention of exercising, meditating, journaling, or enjoying a hobby- but it doesn’t matter if you never get around to it. The holidays are a busy time of year, so it’s important to schedule your’ me’ time. Whether it’s an hour of quiet time each day or a specific day of the week, you can use it to recuperate, relax, and take care of yourself. Set a timer or put it in your calendar so it doesn’t get lost in the bustle. Don’t think about this time as unproductive, but instead, remember that humans aren’t machines and need regular rest periods.
Create Healthy Boundaries
It’s easy to say ‘yes’ to every request (mainly because it’s hard to say no) until you find yourself with overlapping plans and a chaotic to-do list. It’s impossible to do everything, so you have to consider which tasks take priority. Focus your time and energy on what will bring you meaning and fulfillment, keep realistic expectations of your skills and your time, and learn when you need to say ‘no.’
The same applies to social situations. When dealing with complicated family interactions or people you otherwise don’t want to see, the best way to protect yourself is to stay civil and have minimal contact.
Tune Into Your Emotions
The holidays bring with them a slew of strong emotions, both positive and negative. Whether celebrating or grieving, give yourself permission to feel, and take time-outs when needed to process overwhelming interactions and feelings. Understanding your emotions and where they come from be a game-changer during uncomfortable situations and periods of high stress. Stop for a breath, and use the facts at your disposal to find the root cause of your sudden outburst or fit of tears. You might be overstimulated, or perhaps you have a valid fear that needs to be addressed. Whatever the source, the first step is to communicate your feelings before you can adequately confront them.
Take Care of Yourself
Taking care of your physical health will not only feel good but will also help you have the energy to handle the holiday bustle and manage your mental health. The holiday and flu seasons overlap, so it’s especially important to wash your hands often and get your flu vaccine. Get enough sleep each night and balance rich holiday foods with a healthy, nutritious diet. Drink plenty of water, and find a workout routine that fits your schedule- exercise can be a great way to relieve stress.