The holidays are a notoriously stressful time of year. You have tons of commitments, your calendar is getting fuller by the day, and your to-do list is longer than your did-list. Like I said, it’s easy to get stressed during the holidays!
But there are so many healthy ways to manage stress during the holiday season! Here are a few of my tips for combating holiday stress…
1. Prioritize time in God’s Word
This season of Advent implores us as Christians to dig deep into God’s word. As we wait with expectation for the coming of Christ, God’s word is a place of respite and refuge. There are so many wonderful Advent studies and devotionals on the market to choose from. She Reads Truth, “Good News of Great Joy” by John Piper, & “Come Let Us Adore Him” by Paul David Tripp are some great resources for daily truth during the Advent season. When we focus our hearts on the hope of Christ rather than the hustle and bustle of this time of year, joy abounding can be found.
2. Make a list and check it twice
Some of you may already be scoffing at this idea of making lists, but hear me out. Lists are the most basic way to keep your headspace organized. If you don’t write things down, you are probably wasting perfectly good brain cells that could be utilized for remembering more important things. I make lists for grocery shopping, seasonal goals, Christmas gifts, meal planning… basically anything that I don’t want to have to remember on my own! Rather than fretting over the small things, give yourself a brain break and start making lists. If Santa can do it, so can you!
3. Listen to your favorite Christmas album
Listening to Christmas music is one of THE best therapies. I don’t know about you, but I think the genre begs listeners to be full of joy and cheer. I try not to listen to the radio this time of year, because so many of the same Christmas songs get overplayed. I can only listen to “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” so many times before going mad. Make a Spotify playlist of your favorites and listen to them on your commute to work or while you’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s a great way to get yourself in the Christmas spirit!
4. Do something nice for someone just because
It IS better to give than to receive! And when we place our focus on someone other than ourselves, we tend to be rewarded in the process. Buy the drink for the person behind you at Starbucks. Bring Christmas snacks to your co-workers. Place homemade cookies at your neighbor’s doorstep. Give grocery cards to someone in need. It doesn’t have to be some grandiose gesture. Just step outside your comfort zone and do something for someone just because you can.
5. Give gifts that matter
When gift-giving, there are two important things you should consider: SENTIMENT and UTILITY. I try to find a balance between those two things when discerning what to buy or make someone. You want to gift something that the recipient will enjoy AND use. In order to satisfy both categories, you usually have to think outside the box. Experiences, photo gifts, tech gadgets, and clothing are always a great place to start. But don’t just buy someone something to say you did. Thoughtfully discern something that is both SENTIMENTAL and USEFUL, while also being respectful of your budget.
6. Schedule time for rest AND fun
Don’t wear yourself thin! Set aside time for both rest AND fun. That may look different to each person. Whether you’re literally scheduling time in your week to rest, go on a date, or workout OR being mindful to sit and relax when you have the time. Either way, as long as you don’t forget to treat yourself every once in a while. This can be especially challenging for introverts since so much of their holidays is being spent around people. Go for a solo walk/run. I find that exercise is a great opportunity to be alone while being active. But if you are an introvert like myself, learn to communicate with the ones you love that you need time to yourself. That is a great life lesson to learn early.
7. Be intentional with your loved ones
When you are with family and friends, be WITH your family and friends. Don’t allow petty distractions to get in the way of quality time. This year, I’ve tried to be more mindful of my screen time. It’s easy to spend hours of our time scrolling Instagram and watching mindless YouTube videos, but sitting down and talking person-to-person is becoming more and more of a challenge in the culture we live in. Put down the phone and listen, experience, and savor the time you have with family and friends.
8. Celebrate old AND new traditions
This year is a big year for me and my husband. It’s our first year of married life, therefore it’s our first year of celebrating EVERY holiday together. Which means we get to combine each of our family’s traditions and make new ones as a family. It’s fun to think of the possibilities and to create our own way of doing holidays as a now married couple. There is no right or wrong way of doing it, that’s the beauty of creating new rhythms and routine during the holidays.
9. Know your goals
Whether your goals are sending out Christmas cards, taking family photos, getting a Christmas tree, or having a Christmas cookie exchange, goals are really important in regards to expectations. Goals, small or large, help you keep up with your expectations. I’m a One on the Enneagram which means I ALWAYS have expectations about just about everything under the sun. But having goals and communicating those with my husband and family, can alleviate some of the stress associated with the holidays. Once they know my goals and they share their goals, we can try to be respectful of one another’s expectations.
10. Find joy in the small things
Peppermint mocha lattes, childhood ornaments, Christmas carols, candy canes, festive wrapping paper…these are just a few small things to find joy in this holiday season! Don’t let yourself get caught up in feelings of comparison and inadequacy. Choose to find joy in the small things. Focus on the blessings right in front of you. Your mindset has a lot to do with how you interpret your circumstances. So by choosing to seek JOY in all things, you may find yourself a bit more joyful about everything!