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Happy Holidays – 5 Steps To Follow If You Want A Stress-Free Christmas

Christmas is still a few months away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing for this stressful yearly event. They say the holiday season is the best time of the year, but it’s also one of the most exhausting for many people. As such, we’ve put together a five-step guide to stop stress in its tracks so you can enjoy the upcoming Christmas season.

1. Make a Financial Plan

Financial strife is one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season. Gift buying, travel expenses, and entertainment costs can add up quickly, exceeding both your savings and your sanity. Before the season hits, do your best to create a spending plan that includes specific gifts you want to purchase (like Christmas hampers for your coworkers) as well as any other major expenses you must make during this time. When you see it spelled out in front of you, you’re more likely to stress less about the financial side of the Christmas season.

2. Set Realistic Expectations

Regardless of what you think the ideal Christmas holiday should look like, be realistic about how it might actually go. Rarely do holiday festivities go as smoothly as they do in the movies, so don’t expect perfection. By realizing there will likely be chaos when the family comes together and disappointment about something at some point, you’ll feel less stressed and more able to manage the situation without a breakdown. To further keep things in perspective, help your children manage their expectations as well so they have more fun at the celebration and a better understanding of what’s truly important.

3. Try Not to Overindulge

The holiday season is full of yummy foods we don’t usually eat throughout the rest of the year. With the added stress of the season, cravings for carb-loaded foods can increase. Since this coincides with easy accessibility to such foods, it’s easy to put on extra weight during the holidays.

This can dip you into a vicious cycle since weight gain increases stress, so try not to overindulge at all of your holiday celebrations. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite treats. Just be sure to go back to a healthier way of eating and stick to your exercise routine between gatherings and throughout the holiday season.

4. Take a Walk (Exercise)

One of the easiest ways to reduce stress and regroup between holiday events is to get out and go for a walk. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercising encourages the body to release endorphins (chemicals in the brain) that make the body feel better. When the body feels better, so does the mind, which results in less stress. If the holiday season has you feeling grumpy, anxious, or otherwise depleted, go for a walk to clear your mind and re-energize your body.

5. Don’t Forget to Have Fun

As you’re decorating the house, baking holiday cookies, or putting up the Christmas tree, don’t forget how much joy is wrapped up in these activities. Rather than seeing them as chores, find ways to include the rest of the family and make a good time of it.

Laughter is great medicine for reducing stress. It increases oxygen levels, stimulates your heart, and releases feel-good endorphins in the brain, all of which counteract the symptoms of stress. Whether it’s a funny movie, a holiday prank, a hilarious joke, or some other humorous event, make sure to laugh long and laugh loud to fight the effects of stress.

The holiday season is certainly intense, but if you follow the steps above, you can enjoy a stress-free Christmas.