Though it’s the most wonderful time of year, a record number of Americans are feeling the stress of the season, and it’s resulting in what’s being termed “holiday burnout”. To avoid the onset of festive fatigue, it’s important to stay conscious of the stress triggers that happen around the holiday season.
To help avoid holiday burnout, we’ve put together some stress management tips to help you maintain your health, wellness and sanity this December.
You’re not alone in feeling exhausted before Christmas. One survey found that 68% of Americans consider the holidays to be a stressful rather than enjoyable time of year. Long lines, financial stress, extra cooking and lots of scheduled events are some of the reasons why the holidays are so stressful. It's enough to leave even the most organized people feeling overwhelmed.
But the holidays should be a joyous time of year to celebrate family and the warmth that’s felt when everyone is gathered together. To keep yourself focused on these positive aspects of the holiday season, it’s critical to manage your stress levels to avoid being overrun by to-dos.
Here are some of the top holiday stress tips for beating holiday burnout and maintaining your wellbeing this year:
Exercise is one of the first habits to go right out the window when holiday schedules fill up. Not to mention the poor weather can provide the perfect excuse not to go for a run or get to the gym. Because there’s so much extra to do this time of year, it can be easy to bump exercise off the priority list so you can make room for everything else.
It’s especially important to keep active during stressful times. Exercise is essential to maintaining your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. If you don’t maintain your exercise levels when faced with the onset stress, you could end up with painful muscle tension in yourneck, shoulders orback.
Commit to at least maintaining your regular fitness program. Not only will it give you the strength and energy to face your to-do list, but it will also keep your immune system up to prevent the risk of cold and flu that increases with holiday stress.
Like exercise, diet is also easy to neglect during the holidays. But when you interrupt your eating normal habits with holiday baked goods, your body doesn’t react well. Suddenly consuming large quantities of nutrient-poor food can cause your digestive system to produce all kinds of unpleasant symptoms. To avoid this, make sure to stick your regular diet as best as possible. Eating a healthy breakfast that’s high in fiber will maintain digestive regularity.
Another way to prevent overindulging is to eat a small but healthy meal before going to a holiday party. That way, you’ll be less likely to graze away on chips and baked goods all night. Besides, eating delicious treats is satisfying when you limit them. After the third or fourth Santa-shaped cookie, the novelty starts to wear off.
We’ve all been there—late-night shopping (thank you, holiday hours) and gift-wrapping binges, keeping us up well past our usual bedtimes. Avoid the chaotic sleep schedule. Just as you must maintain your diet and exercise habits, so too should you stick to your sleep routine. Over- or under-sleeping disrupts your internal clock, making you feel sluggish and unable to fully enjoy the season.
As much as possible, continue to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Leave holiday parties early if you need to and set alarms to remind yourself that it’s time for bed. Remember, the more sleep you get, the more energy you’ll have to tackle your holiday to-do list.
It’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough water when your stress levels increase. If you fill up on caffeine alone then hit the malls for gift-buying, you could find yourself slammed with a headache. Bring a refillable water bottle with you. Not only will you always have water on hand, but carrying a water bottle with you will remind you to keep hydrating throughout the day.
Speaking of remembering to stay hydrated, holiday parties tend to lead to excessive alcohol consumption. If you do plan on having some drinks, make sure to balance them out with glasses of water. Your body will thank you in the morning.
Many people put in extended work hours right before the holidays so they can meet year-end deadlines and prepare for additional time off. With longer days and more tasks, it can be easy to sacrifice your normal rest period. While there are only so many hours in a day, it's vital to still incorporate downtime into your schedule, above and beyond your sleep.
Use Saturday evenings or Sunday morning as your non-negotiable downtime. Schedule it in as if it were any other appointment you’d need to show up for. This will help you remain accountable for your wellbeing and will help you feel recharged.
If you feel flustered or anxious before you even enter the mall, that’s a sign that you’re too overwhelmed. You can bring yourself into a more conscious state by taking a 5-minute pre-shopping mindfulness break. Before you get out of your car and head into the stores, set a timer on your phone. During this mindfulness break, try deep breathing exercises.
Another relaxation technique to try is to mindfully count from one to ten, then reverse from ten to one, repeating several times. You can also practice mindfulness breaks throughout the day—before you leave the house and when you get home to help you decompress. Practicing mindfulness andrelaxation techniques will help keep you grounded and able to face your holiday tasks.
Use the holidays as a time to gain deeper insight and perspective into what’s actually important in your life. If you’re facing such overwhelming holiday burnout that you’re getting sick and anxious, then it’s time to reconsider what this time of year really means to you and your family.
It’s important to have a conversation with yourself around the holidays about what is and isn’t a priority to you. Though we get excited this time of year, we need to remain conscious of our health and remind ourselves that our wellbeing comes first.
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