No matter where you’re from or what your cultural background is, the holidays can bring immense joy – as well as immense stress. In fact, it’s so common for great life events to feel even more stressful than negative life events. Our bodies and minds are intertwined and react to each other constantly when presented with a strong enough stimuli. The holidays can be a time where dreams come true, or when nightmares manifest in real time. We reunite with loved ones, receive gifts of all shapes and sizes, and we reflect on the year that is coming to a close.
In building this list, I have pulled from both my personal experiences and my professional toolkit in order to create a guide that will hopefully help you keep a sense of peace over the coming season. Some of it may be common sense, I know, but I like to remind myself of the stuff I’ve already learned so that it’s ready when I need it.
1. DON’T LEAVE YOUR SHOPPING UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE
This might be obvious, but I’ve done it more times than I care to remember and every time I have been left feeling rushed, tired and second-guessing my choice of gifts. December 3rd is still early. Purchase all that you need now so you can spend more energy on everything else later on – particularly if you are introverted.
2. PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
On average, you are not going to have time to see everyone who wants to see you or get everything you wish you could, done in time. If you work, have children, or any other type of obligation, December is a time of multi-tasking in a way that is almost an art if you can do it well. Dedicate your time to what is most important and save the rest for January. The fast road to feeling overwhelmed is doing too much too soon, which leads into my next point…
3. PRACTICE SAYING NO
This is a hard one. It never comes easy. Particularly when you are surrounded by people you love. But saying no is not about disrespect, disloyalty or acting out. It’s about knowing when you reached your personal limit, which is different for everyone. So, check in and ask yourself how you’re feeling. What is your body telling you when you’re asked to do something? Your gut is wiser than your brain likes to let on.
4. TAKE SPACE WHEN YOU NEED IT
For many people, the holidays are busy and the one time of year where everybody gets together. That sounds amazing on paper, but the reality can be a lot – especially if you’re still processing the year you are coming out of. If you’re feeling tired, like you can’t think properly, or maybe you can’t stop thinking (and feeling), step out of the room and find somewhere quiet to sit by yourself for 10-15 minutes. It doesn’t need to be a Pinterest-styled Zen garden, just somewhere you can come back down to Earth and process what you’re feeling.
5. SET BOUNDARIES WITH LOVED ONES
Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s the ones closest to us who say the meanest things?” Family have a weird get out of jail free card. We can say the worst things to each other, but if someone else says it, we’re out for blood. Sometimes boundaries get blurred. For one reason or another, the holidays this year might be the best for some people in the house – and that’s okay. But it also means that communicating this – in some way – might be necessary to avoid any unnecessary frustration. You don’t have to confess your deepest, darkest secrets to your younger brother. But if a joke goes too far, or if a conversation knocks on a door you don’t want to open, be sure to set a boundary so they know you’re not going there this year.