Five Ways to Reduce Stress and Find Peace Amid the Holiday Rush

Tips and tricks for managing the festive season with ease.

From planning dinners and attending parties to buying gifts and navigating family tensions, December can be a very stressful time of year. But the good news is, with a little planning and some firm resolve, you can easily sidestep many of the major holiday stressors. Here, we bring you five tips for managing holiday demands so you can enjoy the festive season without feeling overwhelmed.

1. Make a holiday budget—and stick to It

As the cost of living grows increasingly higher, spending money on holiday gifts, meals, decorations and events can put significant strain on our finances, leading to lots of stress and worrying. Setting a holiday budget, and sticking to it, will help you avoid overspending and keep your financial goals on track.

Start by figuring out the total amount you want to spend this holiday season, making sure it’s a sum you can already afford. Once you have your budget, make a thorough list of all the people and things you’ll be spending money on. Really take your time on the list, making sure that all expenses are accounted for (even the sneakier ones, like a new holiday outfit to wear to parties, gratuities for hairstylists or mail carriers, and little gifts for your kids’ teachers). Next, allot a dollar amount to each person and item on your list, making sure to keep within your chosen budget. This will give you a clear plan and help you feel much more in control of your spending.

2. Delegate Holiday tasks

Whether it’s shopping for presents, preparing meals, hosting a party, or just keeping up with regular chores amid the holiday hustle, there are a lot of things that need to get done over the festive season. To avoid feeling overburdened by all your holiday duties, pass some of them on to family and friends.

Start by writing a list of jobs that need doing throughout the holidays, then decide which of them you want to delegate and to whom. Try to assign tasks according to people’s strengths or by activities you know they like to do—that way, you’ll feel more confident knowing things will be done well. For instance, if someone in your household enjoys doing crafts, put them in charge of wrapping and labeling gifts or setting the table (and creating a centerpiece) for your big holiday meal. Of course, there are bound to be chores on your list that no one will enjoy doing, but even so, at the end of the day, your family and friends will all feel good about helping out.

3. Head outside for some exercise

It’s amazing what sunshine, fresh air and exercise can do for relieving stress and improving your mood. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by all the holiday excitement, simply bundle up and head outside for a brisk walk. Studies have shown that a 30- to 60-minute walk boosts feel-good endorphins, helps reduce anxiety and enhances a person’s sense of physical and emotional well-being.

Of course, if you’re not in the mood for a long walk, or you’ve got kids who need to burn off their own anxious energy, there are plenty of other fun and easy ways to stay active outside over the holidays. Consider going ice-skating at a local outdoor rink (our Bayside community has a great one), building a snowman or snow fort in your front yard, or sledding in one of Calgary or Airdrie’s safe, designated sledding areas.

4. Honour your daily routine

The holidays are often so busy that we tend to let go of the daily activities and routines that make us happy and keep us healthy. But maintaining those healthy habits during the festive season is one of the very best ways to defend against stress. If reading the newspaper over a cup of coffee in the morning is the way you like to start your day, don’t skip it. Same goes for exercise regimens, daily meditations or even those afternoon power naps.

Holiday obligations don’t have to come first, no matter how much it seems like they do. So, if your daily routine brings you comfort and release, try to keep as much of it intact as possible. You’ll be glad you did.

5. Don’t be afraid to say no

’Tis the season for celebrating with family, friends and colleagues. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the number of holiday events you’ve been invited to attend, remember that it’s okay to say no to some—or all—of them. Instead of trying to squeeze as many activities as possible into your schedule so as not to disappoint others, reflect on what events and activities you really want to experience this season, then skip the rest.

Choosing to decline certain invitations is one of the most effective ways to avoid holiday burnout. It’ll also help you to conserve much-needed energy for the events that you do choose to attend. Just remember to be honest, polite and firm when declining invitations from loved ones. And keep in mind that with every invitation you turn down, you’re giving yourself one of the most precious holiday gifts of all: the gift of time.