6 Sanity-Saving Strategies for the Holidays

November 29, 2018
Amanda Carrozza

Amanda Carrozza is a freelance writer and editor in New Jersey.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious by festivities and obligations this holiday season, try these 6 tricks to destress.

The weather outside is frightful—and sometimes so is the holiday season. Sure, December brings sappy holiday movies, a never-ending supply of sweet treats, and an overall feeling of happiness. But it can be difficult to maintain a sense of holiday cheer all month long. In fact, the decorating, shopping, baking, and holiday parties can become a source of stress that brings out your inner Grinch.

Before you say “bah humbug” to the entire season, consider these 6 tips for staying sane well into the New Year.

1. Eliminate Stressful “Extras”

While there are a number of fun activities to take part in during the holidays, don't commit to obligations that will add more stress than joy. If you don't have the time to send holiday cards this year, don’t. Same with the cookie exchange you have been invited to. If baking 3 dozen cookies means you will only get 4 hours of sleep tonight, gracefully bow out of attending.

And when you do say ‘no,’ don’t let yourself feel guilty. The world will still keep turning even though you didn’t make candy cane—shaped sugar cookies.

2. Vocalize Your Emotions

Whether it is to a licensed professional or your closest friend, it’s important to share your feelings, fears, and anxieties related to the holiday season. Bottling your feelings and frustrations inside which will only exacerbate your sense of dismay. It may seem like everyone around you is bursting with holiday glee, but you will likely find that you are not alone in your angst.

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3. Just Breathe

It seems like elementary advice, especially considering that breathing is an involuntary action, but it is remarkable how much taking a few deliberate deep breaths can elevate your mood. When you find yourself in a never-ending checkout line, cornered by a nosy relative, or faced with a cat that has swallowed tinsel, step away and practice this easy breathing technique:

  • Take a deep breath in through your nose (the type of breath that fills your abdomen not just your chest).
  • Hold the breath for 3 to 5 seconds.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth.
  • Repeat at least 2 more times.

4. Schedule Time to Do Absolutely Nothing

One of the best ways to keep yourself sane during the holiday season is to make time for yourself. But because this time of year is extra busy, take the added step of actually scheduling at least 30 minutes of “me time” in your calendar each week. Spend this time doing whatever it is that brings you joy, be it taking a long walk, luxuriating in a bubble bath, or cozying up in a quiet room with a great book.

5. Plan Your Meals

Holiday meals and treats are delicious, but they are not exactly healthy. Find balance in your end-of-year diet by prepping health-conscious meals and snacks you can grab on the go. Think smoothies, trail mix, overnight oats, and chopped vegetables with hummus. Not only are these types of foods good for your waistline, but they will give you the energy you need to get through a busy day of patients followed by a trip to the mall to pick up last-minute gifts.

6. Adjust Your Attitude

Sometimes, no matter what you do you still find yourself becoming overwhelmed by everything there is to accomplish during this time of year. When you find yourself consumed by negativity, take a few moments to reflect on what you are grateful for and your aspirations for the year ahead. Sometimes just shifting your focus to positive thoughts is enough to improve your mood.