In an ideal world, the holidays are meant to be a time of light, love and laughter. We hope that, along with friends and family, you will get in the holiday spirit by joining in the festivities surrounding Life University’s Lights of LIFE holiday campus-wide lights displays, which run from Thanksgiving Night to New Year’s Eve. But despite the colorful decorations and general sense of goodwill, the holiday season can often become a pressure cooker for stress, as familial obligations, financial worries and more start to build up.
Though it is not always possible to eliminate all sources of stress from our lives, it is possible to choose to lean into positive thinking and practice strategies for how we react to and cope with stressors.
The Mayo Clinic offers some helpful tips in their article, “9 tips to fend off holiday stress”:
- Plan ahead. It will probably be necessary to prioritize some commitments over others, as, inevitably, some parties, events and socials will be happening on the same day. Make a point to plan for what is realistic for you to attend, both in-person and virtually. If you are the host, menu planning is your friend to keep you organized and make sure you don’t have to make extra grocery store trips because you forgot the eggnog.
- No is not a bad word. Everything sounds like fun and a good way to spend your time, but it is okay and necessary to say no to a few less pressing engagements. And don’t be afraid to ask for help from family members if the to-do list starts to get as long as Santa’s Naughty or Nice list.
- Budget like a boss. There isn’t much way around it. Spending money is a given during the holidays. Think critically about what you can reasonably afford to spend on each person on your list, budget for it and stick to that budget. Gifts that require ongoing costs, such as subscriptions, can be a financial drain and should most likely be avoided.
- Find ways to relax. Play comforting and calming music, light some candles and get some fresh air if you can.
- Keep up healthful habits. Disruption in our daily schedules, including travel, can make it difficult to maintain good health habits. Be creative in incorporating exercise and fitness into the day when with family. Suggest a family walk or a fun outdoor game or activity with some element of movement to it. Eat healthy snacks between meals, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.Make sure you don’t go to a party super hungry, as you will only fill up on unhealthy, fattening holiday fare. Prepare by eating a small meal or snack beforehand and then indulging in reasonable portions of foods and desserts that you can’t typically get other times of the year.
- Acknowledge changing circumstances and emotions. Grief can sometimes turn things gray during the holidays after a loss in the family, as it is impossible to ignore the fact that an important person is missing from the table. Addressing these hard feelings and opening up about them to others may lighten the load a bit. Consider making changes to some of the old traditions, as this might help ease the transition instead of continuing on as if circumstances have not changed.
- Be flexible and respect differences. It’s easier said than done at times, but for the sake of your stress levels, keep in mind that those around you may have different cultural and political viewpoints than some of your family members. Make a point to focus on what you do have in common, and if possible, redirect tense moments to positive conversation and activities.
- An imperfect holiday is OK when you are with those you love. It’s really easy to get caught up in the busyness of the holiday season – that sense of always having to be on the move, to get your kid that latest toy or to volunteer at every worthy cause’s events. But you are just one person; you are not Superman or Wonder Woman. Be realistic about what you can handle and what is truly important. The desire to try to make the holidays perfect for everyone usually just spoils the season for yourself. Just relax and enjoy the time with family and friends.
- Self-care isn’t selfish. You are no good to anyone if you don’t take care of your own basic needs. Recharge with a nap, take a walk outside, read a book or watch a favorite movie.
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