Managing daily stress presents its own challenges, but coupling that with holiday stress can be overwhelming. Stress management is critical for our health as uncontrolled stress has been linked to health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, depression and anxiety, and even diabetes. All of this is thanks to a little hormone called cortisol. While an integral part of our stress response, cortisol also plays important roles in a number of other body processes. Thus, when chronic stress raises our cortisol levels for long periods, other processes suffer as well.
How to Manage Holiday Stress
When strategizing about how to manage your stress, remember that there are 2 parts to it:
- Limiting how much stress you experience
- Mitigating the effects of the stress you can’t eliminate
So, let’s talk about how to manage your holiday stress through these lenses.
Limiting How Much Stress You Experience
- Cut out the non-essentials. This time of year, we tend to heap a bunch of extras onto our to-do lists. And a lot of those things we don’t have to do and we don’t want to do. Take a good look at your calendar and to-do list and ask yourself why those items are on there. If they aren’t essential, cut yourself some slack and let them go.
- Enforce your boundaries. People pleasing is a major cause of stress and having strong boundaries is the antidote. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to the things you don’t have to take on that will cause you more stress.
- Plan ahead. Nothing worsens a stressful situation like feeling completely out of control of it. Look at the items you have control over and plan for them. Make lists, put it is a schedule, and avoid procrastinating so you’re not scrambling at the last minute.
Mitigating the Effects of Stress
- Get sufficient sleep. We need sleep in order to recover and for our hormone levels to balance out. Do what you can to ensure you get your 7-9 hours each night. This could include: making sure your bedroom is a cool, dark, and restful space; having a bedtime routine; and stopping screen time 1-2 hours before bed.
- Make time for you. Self-care is the way we recharge. Making even just a little time to do something that you enjoy every day can go a long way for mitigating stress. Going for a walk, making a craft, journaling are all types of self-care. Really, the only requirements are that, 1. you enjoy it, and 2. it’s not another to-do list item.
- Don’t forget to enjoy the season. At the end of the day, the whole point in this holiday season craziness is that we have fun and enjoy time with those we love. So make sure to squeeze that in.