Does it feel like you blinked and the holidays are approaching again? Or perhaps it feels like they're taking forever to arrive and this year has been slower than ever. But either way, the holidays are upon us and it's time to start preparing. However, when we talk about preparing, we don't mean buying gifts and planning recipes. Instead, this post is going to tell you all about the holiday stress relief practices you can try to get through this holiday season feeling your best.
The Importance of Holiday Stress Relief
Before we get into our holiday stress relief tips, let's talk about stress over the holiday season in general.
First of all, let's talk about some of the particularly stressful elements of the holiday season.
Many people experience one, all, or a combination of all of these (and other) stressors:
- Financial stress related to gift-giving, travel, as well as buying decorations and food
- Navigating social situations with family and friends
- Struggling to keep up with personal habits, including healthy eating and exercise
- A feeling of "not good enough" or constant comparison to other people and their holiday practices
- Keeping up with a busy schedule packed with socializing, seasonal activities, cooking, decorating, etc.
The US Highbush Blueberry Council shares the latest holiday stress statistics and it includes a new name for stress around the holiday season: Festive Stress.
Interestingly, they've been able to break down Festive Stress into three stages:
- Stage one starts on Dec. 13
- Stage two starts on Dec. 18 and is typically when stress becomes "severe"
- Stress levels peak in stage three on Christmas Day
Interestingly, they also found that stress levels start to fall around 2:05 PM on Christmas Day. But rather than waiting until then, why don't we talk about some holiday stress relief tips to help you enjoy all of the holiday season as much as you can?
And keep in mind, even though "Festive Stress" refers to Christmas, these tips apply no matter which holidays you do or do not celebrate.
Let's get started.
Holiday Stress Relief Tips
So, whether you celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Ōmisoka, or any other seasonal holidays, these tips will help you navigate everything that comes with them with as little stress as possible.
Be okay with imperfection
A lot of the stress around the holiday season comes from feelings of inadequacy, wanting to be perfect, or "keeping up with the Joneses." Before we're in the thick of the holiday season, remind yourself that imperfection does not mean inadequate. In fact, imperfection is normal. It's healthy, and it's inevitable. But what doesn't have to be inevitable is feeling stressed about not living up to unrealistic expectations you set for yourself.
Maybe this means prioritizing sleep over staying up all night to bake 300 Christmas cookies. Or maybe it means accepting that every square-inch of your home won't be shiny and polished before your holiday party.
Remind yourself that what matters is your presence. Not your presents or the material things you have to bring or offer. The best gift you can give yourself and others is showing up and being there—not being perfect!
It's also helpful to remember that you are often the one with these expectations in mind and you won't be letting everyone down by not fulfilling them. Chances are, your family doesn't expect everything to be perfect. Instead, you have created this idea in your own mind and now you're exposing yourself to unhealthy stress levels by trying to do everything, even though that's not what everyone expects.
But if, on the other hand, your family and friends do have these unrealistic expectations for what you can do over the holiday season, now is the time to manage them. Speak with your family and friends prior to the thick of the holiday season. Let them know what you will and won't be doing, and explain why your physical and mental health needs to be a priority at all times...and encourage them to prioritize their own as well.
Remember what's important
This next holiday stress relief tip plays into the first tip a lot: remember what's important as you navigate this holiday season. For example, a perfectly clean house will never be as important as spending time with family and friends and making memories.
It's easy to get caught up in the overwhelm of the holiday season. Something as simple as shopping at a busy mall and finding your way around throngs of people can be enough to get your head spinning. When you find yourself in these overwhelming moments, take a moment for some deep breathing to ground yourself. Don't let these situations spoil all the fun of the holidays.
Focus on gratitude
As frustrating as long lines and pushy shoppers can be, look for opportunities to be grateful wherever you can.
Next time you're in a long line, anxious to get to the front, try this. Take three deep breaths, and while you inhale, focus on something you're grateful for.
Maybe it's your warm winter coat. Or the ability to buy food and gifts for your family this season. But one thing is for sure: there is always something to be grateful for. And when you focus on these things rather than your stress, overwhelm, and frustrations, you'll find yourself getting through the holiday season with a lot less stress.
It's very easy to get caught up in doing everything for everyone else over the holiday season. If you're a parent or you have other people you care for, an element of this is inevitable. But this should never come at the cost of caring for yourself! Things like your sleep, your nutrition, your fitness, and your mental well-being always need to be a priority.
Remember: you can't give from an empty cup! So, when you take the time to care for yourself and make sure all of your own needs are met, you're actually doing not only yourself—but all of your loved ones—a big favor.
VNS for Holiday Stress Relief
On the subject of self-care and holiday stress relief, we can't leave without talking about how helpful vagus nerve stimulation can be. In fact, it's not only a helpful strategy during the holiday season, but throughout the entire year.
In fact, vagus nerve stimulation with the help of Xen by Neuvana headphones might just be the best-kept stress relief secret you'll ever hear!
Did you know your brain and body are designed with the ability to self-soothe during or after stressful moments (including the holiday season)? This is a process known as neuromodulation, where your parasympathetic nervous system kicks in to slow your heart rate and breathing in moments of heightened tension (hello, stress relief).
Your vagus nerve is the ultimate ‘chill-out’ machine. It signals the brain to release calming neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and serotonin. This effect can make a profound difference in your overall well-being, not only during the holiday season but on any given day.
What's even better is the more you use your Xen by Neuvana headphones for vagus nerve stimulation and relaxation, the better your brain and body can become at self-regulation and stress management. That’s because the more your brain experiences relaxation, the easier it gets for your brain and body to stay in this state. This is thanks to neuroplasticity. AKA: your brain's ability to create and rewire the pathways between neurons, and this can be done at any age or any stage of life.
Ready to learn more or shop Xen by Neuvana headphones? Click here to get started and prepare to have your best holiday season yet!
Did you learn a lot about holiday stress relief in this post?
Here are three more posts to read next:
- How To Address Anxiety: Returning To Work After Lockdown
- Understanding the Effects of Stress on the Body and Memory
- The Mind and Mental Health: How Stress Affects the Brain