There’s absolutely no question that the holiday season is hectic. In fact, the amount of stress people experience during the holiday season is so prolific that it’s been researched by various medical and academic communities. But just because the season tends to be stressful, doesn’t mean it has to be stressful.
When you’re hosting friends and family for a gathering, it’s inevitable that you may feel a bit of pressure— pressure to get it all “right” such as making sure everyone is having an excellent time, that schedules are organized and everyone’s being picked up and dropped off at the airport at the correct time or that all the food is perfect. Even if you aren’t hosting and you’re a guest, the season can just be a lot. In addition to everything that’s normally on your plate, you’ve got various familial and social obligations to tend to, work deadlines may sneak up more quickly since there may be vacation days planned and you could feel a bit more overwhelmed than usual with your list of to-dos.
Below, we’ve got a few tips to help you regain your balance before, during, and after the holidays so that you can enjoy spending time with family and friends.
- Cut Down or Cut Back. If you’ve been hosting holidays for a while, keep in mind that you don’t have to do things the same way you or you family/friends have hosted in the past—especially if you find it to be stressful. Additionally, you can work on delegating tasks to others, you’ll find that, especially this time of year, people are generally more than willing to lend a helping hand. If you’re dreading baking a dessert, ask a friend that loves that sort of thing if they’d mind bringing their world-famous chocolate trifle along with them.
- Prep Ahead. Again, if you’re hosting a holiday—or even just trying to balance being a guest at holiday events (on top of your daily workload), do your best to plan and prep ahead. If you’re hosting or bringing a dish, start with things you can prepare a few days in advance by freezing or refrigerating them until they need to be popped into the oven. similarly, invite someone over to help make pies or chop veggies. It will make the task more fun and feel less like work and can give you a great opportunity to catch up without a crowd.
- Don’t Neglect self-Care. sit, meditate, go for a walk. Use your planner to schedule down time to nurture yourself, just as you would to schedule chores and appointments. Taking time out for you will actually give you more energy during the holidays. Additionally, your self-care time is an excellent time to forget about everything you have to do and think about why you’re doing it—reflect on fond memories with family, get excited about friends you haven’t seen in a while.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Walk Away. During the holidays (or during any event, really) if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, step away from the crowds and take a few deep breaths. Have essential oils (such as lavender) on hand to inhale to help calm your spirits and re-center yourself.
- start a New Tradition. The holiday season is chock-full of traditions. Keep in mind that you don’t have but to keep things exactly as they’ve been in the past. It’s okay and can be fun to create new traditions. Keep the elements that you love and that bring you joy and do away with (or delegate) the things that cause you stress. Incorporating new traditions—or just do something you’ve always wanted to try. Perhaps it will also make it that much more fun and meaningful for everyone.
And if some of what you tried this year didn’t work out as well as you had hoped, made adjustments next year and keep moving. Holiday gatherings and traditions should not be stressful, but give you joy!