The holiday season in November and December is often proclaimed “the most wonderful time of the year.” Whether you are setting up Christmas decorations or preparing for a wild New Year’s Eve party, there is an endless list of things to do and activities to join in. 

While this is exciting, it is also exhausting. 

Make sure your mental and physical health keeps you going strong this holiday season with these six ways to manage holiday stress. 

#1) Set Up Limits and Respect Them 

Setting up limits is one of the hardest (but most important) parts of the holiday season. Know how many hours in the day that you have and how many events each week you can agree to. It’s okay to turn down an invite or a request for help if you are already overwhelmed. This will allow you to put everything into the tasks you agree to, rather than spreading yourself too thin. 

#2) Maintain a Healthful Diet

The holiday season is filled with drinks with friends, company dinners, and a seemingly endless parade of cookies and candies. While you should certainly enjoy these festive treats, try to maintain a healthy diet when you can. For example, if you are baking cookies with friends later, make sure you eat healthy during the day and have a balanced dinner beforehand. Also, gingerbread does not count as a healthy and balanced breakfast.  

#3) Don’t Sacrifice Sleep

It’s tempting to stay up a few hours later to complete holiday baking or to spend time with friends, but these lost hours will add up. As the holiday season continues, you could feel emotionally drained or lack the energy to do some of your favorite activities. Make sure you prioritize sleep and downtime so you can keep going into the new year.  

#4) Create a List of Tasks for Each Day

Mentally juggling a list of tasks can place unneeded stress on your mind. Whenever you have a new task, write it down. Keep a list of tasks to do each day, and be realistic about what you can and can’t get done. You may even want to break your list down into tasks by day throughout the week. Even the mental steps of assigning a task to a day can help you feel like you have more control over everything that needs to get done.   

#5) Don’t Strive for Perfection

It’s okay if your cookies get a little smudged or your office decorations don’t turn out perfectly. Stop striving for perfection and instead strive for fun. Enjoy the process of decorating and creating, even if you make mistakes. This will take away the stress of holiday season tasks. 

#6) Focus on Meaningful Relationships

Along with striving for fun instead of perfection, focus on the meaning of the holidays: spending time with those you love. If you get too wrapped up in the activities that you’re doing, then you won’t enjoy spending time with those you’re doing them with. When you prioritize relationships, the stress of perfection can start to melt away. 

If Holiday Stress Is Too Much...

While a little stress during the holidays is normal, your symptoms could be warning you about bigger mental health issues. If you feel like your depression or anxiety is overwhelming or getting out of control, it could be a sign of something bigger. Look out for these warning signs and consider setting up an appointment with a mental health professional to find out if it’s something that goes beyond ordinary holiday stress. 

Cover photo courtesy of Unsplash