For me Christmas is definitely the most wonderful time of year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There are more social invites, work tends to be a bit busier as we prepare for the end of the year and then of course there is all the holiday preparing on top; shopping, cooking, cleaning, shopping, cooking, cleaning, shopping, cooking, cleaning and don’t forget about decorating.
Just thinking about it all can be stressful. So how can you successfully navigate through the holiday season?
It’s hard for everyone, especially when you’re constantly deviating from a regular routine, eating differently and going to bed later. Here are 7 tips for a happy and healthy holiday season:
Start thinking about the logistics and things you can prepare in advance of any major dinners or holiday parties. If you’re going to be meeting with two sets of family, decide who is hosting and on what day so everyone knows and can plan accordingly. If you’re hosting, you may also want to think about whether you’ll be doing potluck style or preparing and serving the entire meal yourself. Knowing these details in advance with help with planning, determining any menus or supplies needed.
As we move closer to the holidays, roads are busier, parking lots full, malls jammed with those trying to find the perfect gift and grocery stores are bustling with people prepping for holiday gatherings. Stocking up on party supplies and basics in advance can help prevent the amount you have to venture out into the crowds. Do some batch cooking of some of your favourite healthy treats and keep them in the freezer so you have a few favourite snacks to serve when company pops in unexpectedly. Picking up some extra cards and small gifts can also be nice to have on-hand if you need something last minute and don’t have time to shop.
Use a calendar in a visible place
A big calendar where notes and important dates are marked can be useful in managing busy holiday schedules. Whether it is the kids’ annual Christmas concert, best friend’s open house, work holiday party or mother-in-law’s dinner, having a calendar in a visible spot can help to keep track of increased social activities and changes to normal routines. This will help you to plan the weeks better and prevent forgetting about events altogether or remembering last minute and scrambling to prep.
Schedule in workouts
Regular activity is important for combatting stress and feeling well both physically and emotionally, yet it’s one of the first things we tend to drop when we get busy. Schedule in some non-negotiable workout time on your visible calendar and plan around it – don’t drop it. Keeping up with your workout regimen is a great way to burn off steam, alleviate stress and elevate your mood. By continuing to work out, you can have a bit of stability in your life when a lot of other aspects are different.
Find recipes you love
Heading into the holiday season find some great recipes that are easy to pull together. After a late night at work or being out in crowds of holiday shoppers it’s tempting to grab something at a mall food court or stop and get takeout on the way home. Busy times are when your immune system needs the nourishment the most though. Make meal prep and batch cooking a priority so you have dinner ready to go in the freezer and leverage simple recipes that won’t overwhelm you at the thought of having to prep them. It’s important to stay on track with healthy eating whenever you can during the holidays, as there are already so many more social opportunities that derail the way you normally eat.
Focus on Experiences
Remember to not get bogged down with the ‘stuff’ associated with the holidays. Instead of stressing over what to get your best friend or sister, invite her over for a healthy dinner and movie date at your house. The best way to avoid burnout over the holidays is by focusing on the experiences and things that really matter.
Remember to stop every now and again to take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing is something that’s typically neglected and has a wide variety of benefits ranging from stress relief to improved function of organs. Shallow breathing inhibits all aspects of our physical and mental state. The holidays only come around once a year (perhaps there is a reason for that…) Make a conscious effort to be present and enjoy the moments. If you are feeling overwhelmed just remind yourself that it will all be over soon.
How do you get through the stress of the holiday season? What do you do to make sure you stay healthy and on track? I would love to hear your thoughts below.
PS – If you are a new mom, you can read my tips for getting through the holiday season here.