Do you get the stress bubble in your stomach as soon as Halloween is over? Stressing over credit card debt, gift-giving, and scheduling can easily take over. Are you fretting over the holidays? Well, you're not alone. The American Psychological Association reports that over half of women feel stressed out during the holiday season, which could lead us to find solace in some unhealthy behaviors like overeating. I have a blended family, extended family out of town, and three kids of my own, so I know what holiday stress is all about. What do you do? Relax! Here are 30 unique ways to relax during this holiday season.
1. Find some solitude
People, people, everywhere! Make sure you find at least a few minutes everyday just to be alone in peace and quiet. It'll do wonders for you, even if you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier to achieve it.
2. Try a 10 minute yoga tune-up
Even if you don't do yoga, there are some simple and easy poses you can do in a chair or in the car to help release muscle tension and relax you. If you can get a whole 30 minutes, it will totally change the flow of your day.
3. Embrace the power of aromatherapy
During this time of year, it seems like everything smells like evergreens, cinnamon, and vanilla. These aromas are nice, but do nothing to relax you. Try a bath soak or lotion with some lavender and eucalyptus to help trigger the parts of your brain that react to scent and calm you.
4. Get away from Christmas music
Christmas music has two speeds, holly-jolly and downright maudlin. Now that radio stations seem to switch to holiday tunes right after Halloween, it can be a bit much. When you're stressed, put on some music that helps you unwind and doesn't remind you of more holiday stress.
5. Stay positive
We tend to go in the exact direction we're thinking. If you're expecting nothing but tension when your in-laws arrive, tension you will have. Change your mindset about the negative things and focus on what can be positive about the experience. Fake it 'til you make it!
6. Indulge in happy foods
Chocolate has been proven to increase serotonin in your brain, relieving depression and stress, so eat it! I keep a bar of gourmet European chocolate in the console of my car, so every time I have to go somewhere, I break off a little square and reward myself for running another errand.
7. Get a hand and foot massage
Nobody has an extra hour and $100 for a spur of the moment massage this time of year; however, you probably have 15 minutes and about $20 to spare, so indulge in a hand and foot massage. It's amazing how just a little bit of pampering relieves so much stress, especially since we're on our feet running errands.
8. Change your pillow
Sleep deprivation can be a problem, so I always make it a point to change my pillow right before Thanksgiving. There is just something so wonderful about laying my head on something soft and fluffy after a long day. Being comfortable helps you relax and get a good night's sleep.
9. Your bedroom must be your sanctuary
The bedroom has to be a "Holiday-Free" zone. You need a place to go where there isn't any boughs of holly or hustle and bustle. Make this place the bedroom. That means no gift wrapping on the bed, or to-do lists on the nightstand, either.
10. Turn off the computer and phone
Remember when we didn't have these things, and no one bothered you after 9 p.m. unless it was a dire emergency? Go back to those bygone days, and turn everything off at 9 p.m. You should be unwinding after a busy day and relaxing, not returning a thousand text messages about travel arrangements and gifts.
11. Retail therapy
Shopping soothes the savage beast, but even the most devoted lover of shopping hates going to the store during the holidays. But you should definitely treat yourself with some shopping that is just for you. Even if you're just making wish lists online, it's taking time out for you, and giving you something to look forward to.
12. Say "no" without guilt
Just do it. Say, "no." No, you can't carpool the entire basketball team; no, you can't bake six dozen cookies for the bake sale; no, you can't fit one more roll-away bed for an extra guest. It doesn't make you mean. Suggest other things that work better for your schedule. Taking on too much is one of the biggest reasons we're so stressed this time of year.
13. Pick your battles
This is self explanatory. Don't waste time and energy on things that don't matter. If it's not going to matter in 10 years, it's probably not going to matter now, so it should just be dropped.
14. Realize you can't do everything
You are one person with two hands. No one would expect you to do everything alone all year, so expecting you to spend 40 days as a superwoman isn't realistic either.
Have everyone pitch in. I trade wish lists for 'job' lists every year. This is the only time of year kids won't whine about pitching in, because Santa is watching. Take advantage of it!
16. Go for a drive
Weather permitting, of course, but there is just something so relaxing when you go for a drive without any particular place to go.
17. Get some fresh air
Cool, crisp air is a wonderful thing. It clears your head. Changing your scenery can help change your perspective and stress level, too.
18. Tea Time
Back in the day, we used to take smoke breaks. No one complained that the world stopped for 15 minutes of cigarette time. Well, no one should care if the world stops for a cup of herbal tea. Peppermint and Chamomile are some of the best to help relieve stress.
19. Tell everyone off... in your journal
Aggravated? Want to scream and tell your sister-in-law where she can go? Good. Write it in your journal. This way you can let off steam, lower your stress level, and keep the peace.
20. Get out the old movies and pictures
Sure, your teenagers annoy you now, but remember when the holidays were magical for them? Get out those old movies and relive the joy for a while.
21. Finish shopping before December 15th
Last second shopping is a huge stress trigger. Work extra hard to get everything done early, and then sit back and enjoy the rest of the holiday.
22. Spike that eggnog!
Have a drink! Now, don't get sloppy and fall into the tree, but a cocktail here and there can help you to relax and de-stress a little.
23. Be of service to someone
Helping someone always helps us in return. Sure, it sounds like adding even more to an ever-growing to-do list, but it really does help keep the season in perspective and relieve a lot of that pressure we put on ourselves.
24. Have some holiday fun... in the boudoir
When we're overwhelmed and stressed, intimacy can get put on the back burner. Sex relieves stress. Enough said.
25. Change something about your look
How about a different hair color or makeup palette? Even a subtle change in our appearance can help us de-stress a little and perk up.
26. Soak those feet!
Soldiers are always told to take impeccable care of their feet, and we are the soldiers of the season. Long, luxurious bubble baths might be out of the question, but a 10-minute foot soak can do wonders.
27. It doesn't all have to be homemade
Sure, we want to make and dress every single gingerbread cookie, but maybe you make some cut and bake cookies, or buy some pastries from the bakery this year to help save some time and aggravation. I do break and bakes for the kids, then let them go nuts with the frosting and sprinkles. For office parties and cookie swaps, yes, go fancy and homemade, but otherwise, no one will really care that you didn't slave over homemade dough.
28. Accept all the help you can get, even from the 2 year old
When people offer to help, accept! Martyrdom gets you nowhere. Little kids can dust the end tables and wipe down counters; older kids can sweep floors and vacuum. Never, ever refuse help.
29. Plan your spring vacation
Need something to look forward to when this is all over? Start planning a spring getaway. Daydreaming totally gets you out of the moment.
30. Don't sweat anything not worth sweating over
Remember that this season is about family and fun. If something doesn't go the way you want, chalk it up to experience and get back in the spirit!
How do you like to unwind during the holiday season? Do you already do some of the things on this list? The holidays don't have to be stressful if you plan ahead, keep priorities in check, and remember to spread the joy!