10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays

How to Survive the Holidays

The holiday season has started and it can really be a special time of the year. There is the time we spend with family and friends. We also spend time eating tasty food and drink as well as attending holiday events. There are a lot of exciting and cool things that go on during the holidays.

The holidays also bring a big change in our normal routine and with this can come a lot of stress and anxiety. During the holidays, we may not have as much control over our day-to-day lives as we are used to. Even though we may find ourselves in holiday situations we did not choose for ourselves, there are things you can do to help you power through and come out on the surviving end of those special days each year.

How to Survive the Stress of the Holidays

There are some simple things you can do that can help you breathe easier as you go through the holidays. Give these 10 tips a try if you find yourself stressed out over activities.

1. Try to Keep a Routine

Keeping a routine makes everything easier. During the holidays, especially if you are traveling or staying with relatives, keeping a schedule may be difficult. I always try to keep a normal bedtime. It is the single one thing that will keep my life on track.

If you have things you do each day, try to keep doing at least some of them. It will help you to cope with other things that are not part of your normal routine. A lot of changes can lead to stress, so keep it as “normal” as possible.

2. Avoid the Blame Game

Being around family can be very enjoyable. You may get to see people you don’t get to see often, which is great. On the other hand, you may have to spend time with people that get on your last nerve or have caused stress in the past. Just avoid bringing up unpleasant past experiences.

Keep things light and if things get stressful, change it up. Change the subject or execute your exit plan if the situation becomes too uncomfortable or unmanageable.

3. Practice Moderation

One of the best things you can do for your mind and body is practice moderation. Some holidays last more than one day and excess can get the better of you very quickly.

Staying up late, overconsuming alcohol and eating food high in fat and sugar can quickly catch up with you. These excesses can make it more challenging to deal with difficult situations…or any situation for that matter.

We all love a good time and some libations to celebrate, but too much of a good thing can lead to stress and anxiety.

4. Have a Support Plan

A support plan can be any number of things. It may be as simple as journaling. It may mean asking for help with shopping and cooking to avoid becoming overwhelmed. It could mean talking to your best friend to cope with things that are going on as you navigate the holidays.

If you are dealing with the emotions of your first holiday without a loved one, this can be particularly difficult. There are services available via teleconference that can offer professional help if needed. Talkspace.com and betterhelp.com are 2 well known online counseling service. Other family members can also offer support.

5. Focus on the Present

Families can be complicated and they are very seldom perfect. Most families have some form of dysfunction, but it does not have to be front and center. Focus on the present and where you are now. The holidays are a perfect time to leave unpleasant memories in the past. Keep in mind that yesterday is gone and we are not promised tomorrow. Make the most of the life you are living now.

6. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

You don’t have to be everything to everybody. Pick and choose the events you will attend and the responsibilities you will accept during the holidays. Do what you feel comfortable doing and leave the rest to others.

7. It Does Not Have to Be Perfect

If you having guests or are hosting an event, of course, you will want everything to be perfect. But obsessing over perfection can cause a lot of stress. Guests are happy to be comfortable and among family and friends. They are not going to notice a few things that are less than perfect. Holiday events are about family and friends and not about every hair being in place.

8. Have an Escape Plan

There are some things you just know you are going to have to do and the potential for them to be stressful is high. Create a plan that will help you get out if you have to. It may be that 10 or 15 minutes away will take care of reducing the stress. You may have to make plans to leave at a certain time.

If you are hosting the event, have one room that is off-limits to guests. This will allow you a space to decompress for a few minutes during an event that can be long or stressful.

9. Eat Healthy and Exercise

A healthy diet and exercise are 2 of the best things you can do to eliminate stress. An unhealthy diet can contribute to a lack of energy and irritability. These 2 things can lead to stress in themselves.

It is the holidays and everyone wants to enjoy the food of the season and there is nothing wrong with that. But you will feel much better if you pick and choose your indulgences. This is where it is a good idea to practice moderation.

When it comes to exercise, you may not be able to partake in a full-on workout. But you should be able to work in a 15 – 30 minute walk every few days. If you are traveling and out of your normal routine, the small amounts of exercise should help ward off the stiffness and soreness of being more sedentary.

10. Be Good to Yourself

Your health and well-being come first. And we all have things that mean the most to us personally. Be sure and make time to do some of these things. Life is all about balance. The holidays can bring a lot of “obligations”, but it is important to see yourself as a priority.

The second part about being good to yourself is to not beat yourself up when things do not go perfectly. Embrace the holidays for what they are…a time to be grateful and spend time with family and friends. 

Final Thoughts

As much as I love the holidays, there are also a lot of things about them that cause stress. Have a plan and make choices wisely. If things have the potential to go badly, limit or even eliminate them. Be flexible with your plans and make some of your decisions healthy. Holidays only come once a year. Be grateful, embrace the joy and remember it is okay to walk away from intolerable situations. 

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