Throughout the country people are facing the reality that the holidays will be different this year. While most of us look forward to the holiday season with excitement and joy, most people also agree that the demands of the holidays, especially with combined families, can take their toll on us. Rather than feeling glum about what we will miss this year, we have the perfect opportunity to set new boundaries and expectations for our holidays so everyone can enjoy them. Here are 7 ways to destress during the holidays this year.
1. Limit Your Sugar
The holidays are a time to indulge your sweet tooth and enjoy the special flavors of the season. Excess sugar intake, however, can cause the body to release cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to physical and emotional side effects. You don’t have to give up sugar altogether, though. Just commit to eating only what you really enjoy and leave the rest. Try some dessert recipes that are full of antioxidants, such as pies, cakes, and cookies made with Superberries Frozen Aronia Berries, or use Aronia Berry Concentrate to brighten up your spritzers.
Too often we feel strapped for time during the holidays. This year, use the extra time you have to exercise daily, even if you just get out for a walk. The endorphins released when you exercise will help you feel happier and more relaxed. Be sure to take some time for stretching, too.
We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine. Now that the whole country has learned to use online video chat platforms, take some time to talk to people who really make you laugh. Zoom with your old classmate. Facetime with an old work friend. Remind yourself who you really enjoy talking to and make an appointment to laugh.
4. Create New Traditions
This is the perfect year to consider the traditions your family has, which ones everyone still values and discard those that don’t bring you joy anymore. Does everyone feel overwhelmed by the expectation to buy presents for every family member? Draw names so that each person is only responsible for one person outside of their immediate family group. Does it stress you out having dinner with two families on the same day? Perhaps have dinner with just your immediate family and join your extended families for desserts on different days so that you have time to sit and enjoy their company.
5. Maintain a Schedule
During the holidays, it is easy to abandon our work-week schedules and let our days unfold free-form. Maintaining a bedtime and enjoying a consistent amount of sleep will not only ease your transition back into work after the holidays, but it will help limit your stress. Prioritizing sleep will help you enjoy the time you do spend with family and friends.
6. Manage Expectations
This year is different for everyone, and it is important to be honest about that, especially with children. If holiday celebrations must be different this year, discussing that honestly with young people in ways that they can understand will be less stressful in the long run than not confiding in them. You must do the same for yourself, too. Be honest about what you want versus what is expected of you, and only give what you are willing.7. Do Less
Many people complain about how stressful the holiday season is. When pressed to explain why they often discuss all the activities they have planned. With so many cities in partial lockdown or discouraging large social gatherings, this is the perfect opportunity to do less and enjoy more. Savor the activities you do with your children. Enjoy preparing your meals. Take a moment to watch birds at a feeder. Slowing down and taking time to notice is sure to lower your stress.
The holidays will be what you choose to make of them. Find joy in the simplicity this year is imposing upon us at home with your loved ones. If you do celebrate with extended family or if you celebrate alone, focus on the positives and all the strength we have all shown this year. Next year, when the world returns to normal, I hope we all can choose to maintain the better paths we followed this year.