Easy Self-Care Practices to Manage Holiday Stress

Try these easy self-care practices for managing holiday stress this Christmas season.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of togetherness and celebration, so why does it always seem to be a busy and stressful season instead?

We feel rushed to prepare for Christmas, and when it’s all over, it seems like we didn’t have any time to pause and reflect on what the holidays are really about. We only remember battling the crowds at the mall, rushing from one holiday party to the next, or making frantic last-minute trips to the grocery store for family dinners.

Well, this year your holiday season doesn’t have to be stressful and rushed. Try incorporating these simple and easy self-care practices into your holiday preparations to help you not only keep stress at bay but also to help you appreciate the wonder and beauty of this Christmas season.

Make time to rest

Activity always seems to ramp up around the holidays. I know that my calendar tends to fill up quickly in November and December, and my to-do list suddenly triples in length. In theory, the things that fill my calendar are good things, but if you don’t take the time to pause and reflect, they become burdens and obligations instead of a fun holiday event to attend.

Taking just 15 minutes a day to pause can go a long way with minimizing the amount of stress you are experiencing. Simply sitting quietly without any distractions to reflect on your day and the purpose behind what you are doing that day will leave you refreshed, at peace, and much less stressed. You could even consider using a simple prayer during this time.

Schedule time to take 15 minutes in your day at a time that works best for you and your schedule, but be sure to make it a priority. Rest is an important part of life, especially during the holidays, so treat times of rest as a must and not a nice-to-have.

Simplify and slow down

Again, because the holidays are so busy with family gatherings, holiday parties, and Christmas preparations, it’s easy to feel rushed and pressed for time. And feeling rushed can activate your body’s stress response. Spending the whole day in a state of stress is not the ideal way to savor the wonder of the Christmas season.

So instead of trying to cram all of the things into your already-packed schedule, try a different approach. Slow down your day and just do what you absolutely need to. Do you really need to perfectly wrap every single present in your custom wrapping paper? Sure, it would be nice, but it isn’t essential. Instead of spending hours on that, aim for a simpler approach to gift-giving.

Don’t be afraid to turn down an invitation to another holiday party if it’s going to mean overscheduling yourself. Try simplifying your approach to Christmas so that you can slow down and really appreciate what the season is offering.

Practice gratitude

Being thankful isn’t just for Thanksgiving. In fact, practicing gratitude has been shown to increase a person’s sense of overall well-being. Other benefits include feeling less lonely and isolated, feeling more optimistic and joyful, having stronger immune systems, sleeping better, and lowering blood pressure. This makes practicing gratitude an important part of self-care not only during the Christmas season but also all year-round.

Simply identifying three to five things you are grateful for each day can help remind you that, despite the busyness of the holiday season, there are positive and wonderful things happening in your life. Keep a notebook by your bedside and jot down the items for your gratitude list, either when you wake up in the morning or at the end of your day. I like writing them down at the end of my day, because it helps me reflect on the good things that happened that day.

By making this a daily practice during the Christmas season, you are training your brain to look for the good things happening in your life instead of letting them be crowded out by the stress and busyness of the season.

The Christmas season doesn’t have to go by in a blur, leaving you exhausted and wondering where the time went come January. Using these simple self-care practices of making time to rest, simplifying your calendar and slowing things down, and practicing gratitude can help you focus on the things that Christmas is really about (and not making Christmas seem like just another busy season to get through). Try these and watch your appreciation and enjoying of the Christmas season grow!

Self-care practices for managing holiday stress: "simplify & slow down; make time to rest; give thanks; and practice gratitude."

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