5 Tips for Managing Stress Through the Holidays and the New Year

The joys of the holiday season are like no other: time is spent with family and friends, lifelong memories are made, and traditions are passed on to others. 

With all of this joy, stress is often also present. The celebrations and extra work that goes into the holiday season can take us out of our normal routine, lead to overindulgence, and for many, become an overwhelming and emotional time. Here are a few tips for helping you manage holiday stress and make the most out of “the most wonderful time of the year.”

  1. Set Realistic Goals for Yourself
    Goal setting is important for overall success, it’s also great for combatting stress. You may have health and fitness goals, financial goals, or other personal goals. Keep these goals in mind so you don’t lose sight of them during the holidays, which can cause you feelings of regret as you begin the new year. Also take time to set some realistic short-term goals during the holiday season, both to accomplish your happy holiday and also to keep you on track with your longer-term goals. 
  2. Define Tasks that are Necessary and Those that Aren’t
    Not all of the things that we think we need to do during the holidays are truly necessary. When we task ourselves with needing to do so many things, the thought of it all can become overwhelming. Defining what actually needs to be done makes that to-do list manageable. As mentioned before, a good idea is to refer to those goals you have set for guidance. Doing this can help alleviate some of the stress of “getting it all done.”
  3. Focus on the Present 
    Being mindful and focusing on the present is always good for your mental health. Thinking ahead or about the past often causes undue anxiety and take time away from your task at hand. You may have 30 things on your to-do list, but taking each one at a time can help calm your mind and increase productivity. 
  4. Allow Yourself to Say No
    It is ok to say no. If there is a particular holiday tradition that increases your stress level, or you have double-booked events - then say no. Your time should be spent with people you love and bring you happiness. If going to the neighborhood holiday luncheon does not or you are struggling with all the other things you need to do that day, maybe you decline attending this year. Relationships, finances, and lack of time are huge stressors during this time of year. It is ok to say no to something that causes you a negative emotion.
  5. Maintain Healthy Habits
    According to the American Heart Association, good nutrition, exercise, and sleep help your body cope with stress. Don’t lose sight of all of your healthy habits just because it is the holidays. Practice portion control and choose healthier alternatives when available. Stick to your regular sleep schedule. Exercise if possible, and if you don’t have time for your regular workout routine, take a walk to clear your mind and get some fresh air. . You may not be able to avoid all stress during this time, but exercise will definitely help you feel better. Choose activities that you enjoy doing so you look forward to it. Check out the many activities available at the YMCA of Central Kentucky to help keep you moving and healthy during the holidays.