Everyday life can be hectic enough, but the surge of seasonal activities can add a completely new level of stress. However, it’s possible to tap into the holiday spirit in ways that make you feel delighted rather than drained. It starts with picking your priorities. Figure out what activities are truly meaningful to you–whether it’s volunteering your time to those less fortunate versus attending lots of parties, or doing fun activities with the kids versus baking tons of treats from scratch. Make a list and pare it down to those things that are most important to you and learn to say no to obligations and invitations that don’t match your priorities. Here are more ways to avoid holiday burnout:
Pace yourself. If the flurry of holiday sales has you frantically running to catch them day after day, take a step back. Think about shopping online for sales, for instance—you’ll avoid the traffic, parking and lines! Try not to postpone gift buying until the last minute when you feel overly rushed.
Rethink your gift-giving strategy. Does your mom really need another pair of earrings or your grandma another sweater? Instead, could you make a date for brunch for one-on-one time, for instance? Sharing experiences—even a walk around the neighborhood to take in the lights followed by hot cocoa and dessert–can create a priceless memory. Gift certificates or donations to a charity in someone’s name—to a local shelter for an animal lover, for instance, or a nature preserve for an avid gardener–can also be a heartwarming gift for those on your list.
Set—and stick with—a budget. Once again, remember, there is no hard-and-fast rule that pricey store-bought gifts are necessary to express your holiday spirit. If you lean toward small homemade items, even a mix of nuts placed in a colorful mug can be just the ticket. There is nothing more stressful than blowing your budget and feeling the squeeze when the bills roll in.
Block out time to recharge. Do something to slow down and unplug from the frantic activities, whether that’s reading, listening to music by candlelight, hanging out with friends, or just taking a stroll through the woods. In fact, spending time outdoors in the fresh air, feeling the ground beneath your feet, is one of the best ways to feel more balanced. Speaking of recharging, make sure your sleep schedule is on track and that you are eating nutritious meals and not filling up on holiday goodies!
Share the load. You don’t have to do it alone and you don’t have to do it all perfectly! Invite others to bring their favorite food to a potluck, for example. Ask a family member to pick up a specific gift at a store. Have the older kids supervise the younger ones in hanging ornaments. Assign family members a list of chores, including cleaning up clutter that tends to accumulate more than usual this time of year.
For some people, the holiday season can trigger feelings of loneliness, anxiety or sadness. Don’t suffer through the “holiday blues.” Talk to your doctor or another healthcare practitioner for help.