The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone. Not only do all your work projects seem to suddenly need to be wrapped up before you leave, but then there’s travel plans, meal plans, gift shopping, and of course – family plans. Finding balance during the holidays can come in many forms, and is different for every person. Below are our favorite things we recommend you keep in mind as you enter the holiday season.
This is very important, and often overlooked. Even from the time you start planning a vacation, your mood lifts. Studies show that adults who haven’t taken a vacation in several years have a 30% higher risk of heart issues than those who have taken a vacation from work. Get as much work done as you can before the holidays, and then take a break!
This is a big one. The holidays can involve a TON of sitting. Here are some fun ideas for you and your family – instead of watching TV all day!
- Go for walks with family. You can take breaks between movies or shows on the TV and take a lap around the block. Even better, find a place nearby to hike for an hour – getting outside brightens your mood, and fresh air is refreshing! Plus, the endorphins released in physical activity will definitely come in handy later when your great uncle so-and-so inevitably tries to bring up politics over dinner…
- Sign up for a charity run/walk as a group! Again, this will get you outside, and provides a fun social activity to do as a group. And these charity walks generally support a good cause.
- Volunteer for a local charity. Food pantries often need help packaging holiday food baskets for local families in need. Some stores look for gift wrappers, or help with food/toy drives. Or, you can set up a caroling group and visit a nursing home! Any way you slice it, helping others while spending time with your loved ones will only make you feel better. We should all try to brighten others’ holidays.
- Attend a donation-based yoga class. Or, if you can’t find one near you, get everyone in the living room in stretchy pants and put on a YouTube yoga video. Getting everyone up on their feet and moving will feel good, and you might even find it giggle-worthy. Light stretching and twists are helpful for those tight muscles after all the travel you might have done, and it’s also great for digestion!
Maintain Your Sleep Schedule
It can be very tempting to stay up till all hours of the night catching up with family and friends that you haven’t seen in a while. However, maintaining your sleep schedule is important. Our bodies crave consistency. With regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events. We naturally become more alert closer to our wake-up time. Our digestive systems become activated in advance of regular meal times in order to more efficiently process food. We start to relax and become sleepy prior to bedtimes. It turns out that these regular daily events serve to anchor our underlying daily rhythms. Maintaining a normal sleep schedule will help all of your body’s system run at peak efficiency.
It’s as simple as that. Whether said to your coworkers or to your friends and family, saying “no” is an important act to practice. Only you know what’s too much for you during the holidays. Don’t be afraid to decline more work, turn down responsibility, or move meetings that will push you over the edge. You’ll actually have more to give if you’re taking the time to care for yourself and your family! Set your limits and say no as needed,
This one may not be for everyone, but it can still be a fun activity that doesn’t involve sitting, the TV, or being distracted by cell phones. It’s a great way to save money, and you’ll probably feel better than when you go out to eat. If you have nephews or nieces, this can be a fun way to bond and involve them. Google some recipe ideas and get started!
If you’re around too many family members that you aren’t used to, this can stress anyone out, especially those with heightened anxiety. Take a walk by yourself or go to the gym if you know that might help. You’d be surprised what getting a few endorphins and some exercise can do for your patience. If you know that 2 days with your in-laws is all you can handle, plan to stay only 2 nights. Setting rules that you know fall within your limits isn’t just beneficial to you – it’s also respectful of everyone else. You’ll be more pleasant in your time together, and they’ll enjoy you more because of this.
More important than all these warning signs, have FUN! The holidays are a wonderful time for families, especially those with children. Enjoy every moment!