According to studies, about 88% of Americans are stressed during the holiday season for one reason or another. So, let’s jump right into some tips to help you stay stress-free over these next few weeks!
1. YOU MUST PRIORITIZE SELF-CARE! Period. Point blank. There is no way around it. That’s it. That’s main tip and the only tip because it feeds into any other tip that may be given.
I know it’s not what you wanted to hear…but it’s what you needed to hear!
Look at like this: Your car drives the same way to the store with a full tank of gas as it does with a half tank of gas, right? Well, self-care is gas for your body, mind and soul. However, the less amount of self-care you have, then the more amount of stress you have.
You will find yourself easily agitated, more overwhelmed, more moody, less focused, and less energized! And that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Self-care is NOT selfish! Your mental and emotional health depends on you to prioritize self-care in your life if you want to maintain your stress levels during the most stressful time of year. Self-care ain't always pretty, but it must be done!
So, how do we do that?
Here are 3 crucial yet often overlooked ways to practice self-care and decrease your stress:
1. Just say “NO!” – Practicing self-care means that you aren’t doing all the things for all the people all the time. You aren’t required to live up to the expectations of other people. It’s okay to say “no” to things you don’t genuinely want to do or that will make you lose your sense of peace. You’re not required to give an explanation either.
a. If someone wants to host the holidays at your house, but you don’t want to…NO! “Unfortunately, my house is unavailable.”
b. If someone wants you to cook the turkey when you only planned to cook the sides…NO!
c. If someone is trying to force you to talk to a person that you know triggers you…NO!
2. Establish boundaries! – EVERYBODY in your life needs some level of boundaries. Don’t allow others to mistreat you nor use you. Don’t allow others to play on your emotions in order to guilt trip you into doing something. (That’s a form of manipulative emotional abuse, by the way.)
a. If you don’t want Grandma feeding your baby all the fats and sugars from the dinner table, then stand firm in your boundaries!
b. If you don’t want to engage in an awkward hug fest with the resident drunk, stand firm in your boundaries.
c. If you don’t want to participate in demeaning conversation and pointless arguments, stand firm in your boundaries and remove yourself from any and all situations that don’t bring you joy. It’s okay to walk away.
d. If your boss wants you to stay and work over at the last minute, stand firm in your boundaries. “Unfortunately, my prior commitments won’t allow me to do that, but I’ll address it first thing on my next work day.”
3. Acknowledge your triggers beforehand! – It’s crucial that you acknowledge the emotions and subconscious effects that your past experiences have on your present behaviors and sense self-worth. You’ll be happy that you took the time to reflect on this so that you can easily recognize when you’re being triggered.
a. If you know that Aunt Diane always triggers your anger because she won’t stop pressing you about your relationships, limit Aunt Diane’s access to you as much as possible. If you must be together, limit and control the engagement.
b. Release the “invisible workload” on your emotions that comes with not recognizing how certain people, places, or situations trigger you.
c. Identify how the pressure to spend money and buy a lot of gifts and material things may trigger you (especially if it’s not in your budget). Then, plan conversations with yourself (for your own guilt) and with others (for managing expectations).
Don’t be afraid to leave early. Don’t be afraid to put your mental and emotional health first. Don’t be afraid to fully decline an invite. You may hurt a few feelings along the way, but if they truly value your relationship, they’ll respect it.
Overall, prioritizing your self-care may take some additional effort in the beginning but you will save yourself mounds of emotional and physical backlash in the end.
On the more pleasant side of self-care: make sure you identify the things that bring you joy, peace, and happiness and try to incorporate those into your daily routine, as much as possible.
Deep breathing, reading, dancing, singing, massages, crossword puzzles, hot baths, nature walks, exercising, Netflix and chilling, go to therapy, etc. You decide.
The more you practice it, the easier it gets. And remember, not only does it benefit you, but self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you. And the best YOU deserves to be happy and stress-free!
If you need help increasing your self-care so that you can decrease your stress…