THIS IS THE FIRST POST IN A NEW SERIES, “KEEPING THE JOY IN YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON”
The holidays are a time of joy and celebration, but for many women in midlife, they can also be a time of stress. Between gift-giving, party planning, and trying to accommodate everyone’s schedule, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
However, with a little bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can enjoy a mostly stress-free holiday! In this article, we’ll discuss the holidays in general and then give you 10 tips to help make your holiday as enjoyable as possible.
Check out the 2nd post in this series on the topic of self care during the holidays.
- What is Holiday Stress?
- Why Do We Let Things Get Out of Control During the Holidays?
- Envision the Holiday You Want to Have
- 10 Tips for a (Mostly) Stress-Free Holiday Season
- Conclusion: How to Have an (Almost) Stress-Free Holiday
What is Holiday Stress?
The holidays are a wonderful time to gather with family and friends, but they can also be a source of stress. This stress can manifest itself in both physical and emotional ways. Emotionally, you may feel anxious, overwhelmed, or even depressed.
You may also find yourself snapping at loved ones more easily than usual. physically, you may experience headaches, stomachaches, insomnia, or general fatigue.
Holiday stress is a very common problem for people of all ages, but it can be especially tough on women over the age of 50. There are a number of reasons why this is the case.
First, women in our age group are often dealing with health issues that can make them more vulnerable to stress. They may also be caring for aging parents or grandchildren, which can add to their load.
In addition, they may be facing empty nest syndrome or other life changes that can make the holidays feel like a tough time. The stress hormones go into full swing and can affect our well being as well as our mental health.
Why Do We Let Things Get Out of Control During the Holidays?
Holiday stress is a very real phenomenon, and it can come from a variety of sources. For many people, the holidays represent a time of family gatherings, which can be both joyful and stressful.
Other holiday stresses can come from financial pressures, as well as the pressure to create the perfect holiday experience for loved ones.
Additionally, the holiday season often coincides with colder weather, which can lead to feelings of isolation and cabin fever.
It’s important to remember that you are not alone in feeling stressed during the holidays. In fact, research shows that holiday stress is quite common. There are key things that you can do to help reduce holiday stress.
Envision the Holiday You Want to Have
The holiday season is a busy time for everyone. There are gifts to buy, parties to attend, and family to visit. It can be all too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget what the holidays are really about.
That’s why it’s important to take a step back and envision the holiday you want to have before the chaos begins. You know, the stress-free holiday we dream about. Spend some time thinking about what you really want your holiday to look like.
What traditions do you want to continue? What new traditions would you like to start? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create for your family and friends? Once you have a clear vision of what you want, you can start making a plan.
Take the time to write everything down, creating a column that includes “how we’ve always done the holidays” and another that would include your thoughts on “what I would love to have our holiday season look like”. Then see how you can meld the two, eliminating or reorganizing, downsizing, simplifying, or whatever it takes to swing the actual event over to what you desire.
This will help you stay organized and focused as you shop for gifts, decorate your home, and prepare for guests. By taking the time to plan ahead, you can make sure that your holiday is as close to your heart’s goal as possible.
Will it be perfect? Probably not, but it will certainly bring less stress with the activities of the season.
10 Tips for a (Mostly) Stress-Free Holiday Season
Sure, I’d love to say that if you follow all of these tips to a tee, you’ll experience holiday bliss as you’ve never seen before. But you know I can’t do that, my friend. Life is life, and no matter how much we plan, envision, and prepare, things happen that are outside of our control.
What I CAN say, however, is by embracing these tips and suggestions, and perhaps making some adjustments to your holiday traditions, your experience can be healthy, happy, and relatively free of stress.
The first five tips are you-focused, meaning the ways that you can take care of yourself during the holiday season. That’s where it starts. With you.
1 | Maintain your healthy routines
As we age, it becomes even more important to maintain healthy habits and routines. Establishing a healthy routine can help reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, and boost overall energy levels. During the holiday season, it can be tempting to let our routines slide in favor of late nights and indulgent meals.
One of the best things you can do is to maintain established morning and evening routines. This will help to provide some structure and calm in the midst of holiday chaos.
Additionally, be sure to make time for healthy activities and exercise. A brisk walk or a yoga class can help to center yourself and reduce stress.
And finally, don’t forget to eat healthy meals and snacks. Fueling your body with nutritious foods will help you to have the energy you need to get through festive preparations.
2 | Sleep well
One of the best ways to reduce stress during the holidays is to get a good night’s sleep. When you’re well-rested and are getting enough sleep, you have more energy and patience to deal with holiday shopping, cooking, and family gatherings.
You’re also less likely to get sick, which can ruin your plans and add even more stress to your life.
To get a good night’s sleep, establish a regular bedtime routine and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening, and create a calm environment in your bedroom that promotes relaxation. With sufficient rest, you’ll be able to enjoy a happier and less stressful holiday season.
3 | Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is critical for your health at any time of year, but it’s especially important during the holiday season. When you’re well-hydrated, your body functions more efficiently, which can help you stay active and prevent stress.
Dehydration can cause fatigue, headaches, and muscle cramps, all of which can make the holiday season more difficult. Drinking plenty of water will also help you to avoid getting sick, as dehydration can weaken your immune system.
So make sure to drink plenty of water each day, and carry a water bottle with you when you’re out shopping or attending parties. By staying hydrated, you’ll be able to enjoy a less stressful holiday season.
4 | Exercise
As we age, it becomes more important to stay active and exercise regularly. Exercise has countless benefits, including reducing stress levels, improving mood, and boosting energy levels.
For women over the age of 50, exercise can also help to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and other age-related health problems. During the holiday season, when stress levels are often high, exercise can be a vital way to stay sane and enjoy the season.
Even a brisk walk around the block breathing in some (crisp?) fresh air, or a session of gentle yoga can help to clear your mind and give you some much-needed peace of mind. So this holiday season, make time for yourself and commit to getting some exercise every day.
5 | Enjoy the food but choose wisely
The holiday season is a time when many of us indulge in sweet treats and rich foods. While there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a special treat now and then, overindulging can lead to weight gain (once it’s there you’ve got a new BFF), low energy levels, and increased stress.
This year, why not commit to eating healthy and making wise choices with your holiday treats? By doing so, you’ll enjoy a less stressful holiday season.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Avoid consuming too many sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, opt for healthier options like fruits and vegetables.
- Choose lean protein options such as grilled chicken or fish instead of high-fat meats such as ham or turkey.
- Cut back on refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Instead, choose whole grain options.
- If you do indulge in a sweet treat, balance it out with a healthy option such as a piece of fruit or a glass of milk.
Making smart choices with your food this holiday season will help you feel your best and enjoy the season to the fullest.
Of course, there are many aspects of the holidays that are outside of our control. So, what can we do to create the most enjoyable and least stress-filled environment?
Let’s take a look at five actions that may help.
6 | Focus on what you can control
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be a time of stress and anxiety. Whether you’re worried about buying the perfect gifts or dealing with family drama, it’s easy to get overwhelmed this time of year. However, there is one simple way to reduce stress during the holidays: focus on what you can control.
There are many aspects of the holiday season that you can’t control, such as the behavior of your relatives or the weather on Christmas Day.
But there are also many things that you can control, such as how you spend your time and how much you allow yourself to worry about things that are out of your hands.
For example, you can control what you wear to holiday parties, how much you spend on gifts, and how much time you spend with family and friends.
By taking charge of the things you can control, you’ll feel more in control overall and be better able to manage any stressful situations that come up. So this holiday season, instead of fretting about the things you can’t change, focus on the things you can. It’ll make all the difference.
7 | Plan ahead
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it can also be stressful. Between all the shopping, cooking, and entertaining, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
One way to enjoy a less stressful holiday season is to plan ahead.
By taking some time to think about what you need to do and when you need to do it, you can avoid the last-minute rush. Make a to do list of everything you need to do and then break it down into smaller tasks that you can complete each day.
You might also want to make a budget for your holiday spending and start shopping early to avoid the crowds. And don’t forget to schedule some time for yourself! Whether it’s taking a few moments each day to relax or taking a weekend getaway, making sure you have time to recharge will help you enjoy the holiday season more.
8 | Reconsider the holiday rituals
As we age, it becomes more important to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to holiday plans and celebrations. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your traditions, but it may be time to reconsider any that cause strife, stress, or undue expense.
For example, if hosting a large holiday dinner has become more trouble than it’s worth, why not try a potluck or buffet-style meal instead? Or if you’re tired of spending hours shopping for the perfect gifts, consider giving homemade coupons for things like babysitting or helping with a project around the house.
Reducing the amount of work and expenses associated with the holidays will help you enjoy a less stressful season. So take a step back and reassess your holiday rituals – your future self will thank you for it!
9 | Plan holiday gatherings wisely
Holiday gatherings can be a lot of fun, but they can also be a source of stress. To help you enjoy a less stressful holiday season, here are a few tips for planning your gatherings wisely.
First, take some time to think about what you really want your gathering to be like. Do you want it to be a festive party or a more intimate gathering of family and close friends? Once you have a clear idea of the kind of atmosphere you’re hoping to create, you can start making plans accordingly.
Plan ahead and make a list of everything you need to do to get ready for the party. This will help you stay organized and on track. Start planning early and spread out the work so that you’re not trying to do everything at once.
Another important consideration is your guest list. Be thoughtful about who you invite and when possible, keep the invitees to those who are amicable towards each other. It’s not always possible, but when it is, you can reduce your stress as the party host.
And, don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Delegate tasks to other family members or friends to help lighten your load.
10 | An attitude of gratitude
As we approach the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the stresses of shopping, cooking, and entertaining. But if we take a step back and focus on the things that are truly important, we can find reason to be grateful.
By taking time to appreciate our loved ones, our homes, and our good health, we can enjoy a less stressful holiday season. And when we express our gratitude to others, we not only make them feel good, but we also improve our own mood and outlook.
So this holiday season, let’s remember the things that truly matter. We may just find that a little gratitude goes a long way.
Conclusion: How to Have an (Almost) Stress-Free Holiday
The meaning of the holiday season is something that can draw us together at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the other special holidays recognized at this time of year.
My goal is always to be grateful and thankful for all of the blessings I’ve been given, and to show how much I love my family in a simple and heartfelt way. It’s never been about the biggest gifts (don’t have the budget for that), or how many wrapped presents I can bestow upon the family.
Although the approach I’ve taken will not remove all of the holiday stress, when I remember the tips above as well as why we are celebrating these holidays, I can relax a little bit and enjoy the people in my life as well as the precious memories we create.
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