The holidays are quickly approaching, and for many of us, it's filled with love and fun, but for those dealing with challenging family structures, loss, or spending them alone, this time of year can bring a lot of unwanted stress and anxiety.
This year, I know the feeling a little too well. Between the loss of my grandfather right before Christmas last year and my grandmother getting sick days after Christmas two years ago, the holidays and feeling of tradition do not feel the same. The family dynamic has changed and the day, for me, is no longer fun. My goal this year was to have a holiday vacation, but because of work obligations, that won't be happening; instead, I will spend time creating new traditions with my partner, parents, and a few friends.
Yes, it can feel isolating but know you're not alone; there are many ways you can make your [own] memories and traditions even when things are less than ideal. Here are seven ways to make the holidays enjoyable amidst the stress and anxiety.
For most, self-care doesn't come naturally, especially during the holidays; too often you're wrapped up in planning the best holiday experience that you lose the ability to care for yourself; your diet is out the window, sleep is nonexistent, and you're completely burnt out. While you're worrying about whether everyone else is happy, you forget about your happiness; I encourage you to give to yourself before you give to anyone else. Now, that doesn't mean monetary gifts; it means taking care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually before you care for anyone else. Protect your space and peace and allow yourself the room to disconnect when you feel burnt out or stressed; do everything that makes you happy.
Also, I urge you to avoid overeating. After self-care, the next thing to go is always your diet. I'm guilty of stress eating while trying to avoid the anxiety, but as you move throughout the endless amounts of food, try to set limits while you maintain small portions of your favorites dishes. I know, I know, this sounds almost impossible, but eating fruits and vegetables between meals and cutting back on the sugary desserts will help your body from going into shock from endless eating; remember food is fuel for your body and spirit.
II. Dress for the Occasion
Putting on fancy clothes is not fun, especially if you're in a slump, but the holidays are about feeling and looking festive whether you’re spending time with family or not. So, throw on the sequins, toss up the glitter, and grab your antler cup cocktail, and dress for the occasion. Dressing up will get you in the spirit and have you feeling better about yourself. I too like to be comfortable, and luckily fashion is on our side these days with relaxed fits and draped silhouettes, so there's no excuse.
Growing up, Christmas was a big deal. I'm an only child, so my parents always went all out for Christmas, and to this day, they still do. But one thing they always instilled in me was to give back, particularly during the holidays because there are many families who are less fortunate. After years of giving back, I noticed one of the best gifts you can give anyone is a helping hand (with a smile) and to show them they haven't been forgotten. I encourage you to give back this holiday in whatever way you can; there's no gift that's too small. Remember what the holidays are about!
IV. Plan ahead to stick to your budget
It doesn't matter if you’re shopping for gifts, prepping food, or traveling for the holidays; a lot of stress comes from trying to stay on budget. I'm big on planning ahead and believe this can carry over into your holiday planning. Give yourself a strict budget and write a list of everything you intend to buy and for who; this will avoid buying unnecessary gifts and will save you a lot of time. I encourage you to also do this if you're cooking; create a solid menu and grocery list, prep ahead and give yourself time to have most of your dishes done before guest arrive; this will keep you on time, stress-free, and on budget.
V. Stay Active and do something festive
You will be on the run literally and figuratively, but it's important to set time aside to prioritize your workouts. It's proven that exercise can reduce stress, so try to get your workouts done early morning to avoid feeling sluggish, overwhelmed, or burnt out.
I also encourage you to channel your inner Meg from How to Be Single and allow yourself to have a Christmas tree. If having a tree is not your thing, go see the local one or holiday windows in your city. Surround yourself with festivity so you can get your heart in the spirit.
VI. It's okay to say no
It's the time of year for invite after invite and gathering after gathering, and while some may be unavoidable, it's okay to say no to the others. If you can't say no, keep the gatherings small and intimate. Convene with your closest friends and family, and keep the larger parties for another time in the year. Also, keep your budget in mind when doing this; staying on track with your budget is more important than attending every party with a new look for each or giving everyone a gift.
VII. Have fun
How you feel for a few days can impact your mood for a long time, but I don't let it change the way you look at your life. Use this time to reflect on the good and all that you've accomplished this year. Make a list of everything you got done and what your intentions are for the New Year. Life may not be perfect, but it's the only one we're given, so remember to have fun and show gratitude through it all.
Wishing you, and your family a blessed and safe holiday season. Continue to Live Your Life in Style and always Be Inspired.