Dealing With Stress During the Holidays

Your friend from middle school who totally has a 4.0 and is sorority chapter president wants to grab lunch. You signed on to babysit three times a week during the break and clean out your closet. You’re taking an online mini-mester to get ahead. You have three weddings, a baby shower, and promised to rewatch the Gilmore Girls revival with your cousin who absolutely cannot stop talking during any TV show.

dealing with holiday stress

Holidays come with stress, too.

I know. It’s not fair, right?

This is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year” yet here you are…perhaps still studying, still job searching, still apartment hunting, and also trying to keep up social engagements with everyone. That party you’re invited to just happens to be a White Elephant exchange and you have approximately 2 hours to find a quirky gift under $10 in the hell that is the mall at Christmastime. Yup. We’ve all been there.

Today, I wanted to shine a spotlight on this stress and talk about how to push it away for the holiday season. After all, you might be like me and you’re getting a much needed break from school and you want to enjoy yourself.

So, what can you do?

Be weary of saying “yes”

Hey girl wanna do lunch, Tuesday? Can you babysit this weekend? Do you want to help me shop for a Christmas gift for my boyfriend’s great aunt Millie? Whoa. Pump the breaks. I know it’s tempting to say a big fat yes to every invitation because – hey! No school! No responsibilities! But…think it through. Maybe you need to rest that day or spend time wrapping gifts with your family.

I’m not saying avoid all your friends you haven’t had time to see during the semester, just be wise! Even though you may not have class, continue to use your planner to keep dates, appointments, and coffee meetings straight.

dealing with holiday stress

Have a couple big to-dos, not a whole laundry list.

I found myself thinking to the break and beginning to write a list of everything I wanted to get accomplished. I need to get my car cleaned and shop for presents and make my portfolio and get my wisdom teeth out and this and that and….it got way too long and stressful. No thanks. I decided to make my “Christmas break Goals” list short and sweet.

-Work on my portfolio (this is the most time sensitive, so I give it priority)

-Work on my novel (yay!)

-and Have fun! (I added that last one as a reminder to my overly-ambitious, type-A, upholder tendency self)

Plan time for fun

You may have seen my post on free winter activities. This should give you an idea of some easy, fun ways to enjoy your break! Plan these into your schedule, so that you are intentional about enjoying your break rather than either sleeping it away or trying to be a total work-a-holic. (I like to speak to both ends of the spectrum.)

Adopt a great self care routine

Every morning or every night you should be taking time to unwind and either prepare your heart and mind for the day ahead or the next day. I like to take time in both the morning and evening to feed my mind, body, and spirit before jumping into an action packed day of Christmas shopping or a lazy day of lounging in PJs with hot cocoa.

In the morning, I get a workout in and listen to my favorite podcasts. In the evening, I like to do a face mask or hair mask and spend 30 minutes reading, doing some creative writing work, or painting! (You might see me posting up in my mask on snapchat: Cristina.snaps) It’s a great way to feel like I’ve had plenty of “me” time before having family time, friend time, or errand time.

dealing with holiday stress

“If something can be done at any time, it is often done at no time.” – Gretchen Rubin

This basically means that, for example, if you have it in your mind that you need to give some clothes to Goodwill sometime over the break, you might end up never completing this task because you left it open-ended to be done at any time. Gretchen Rubin (host of my favorite podcast, Happier) suggests using the strategy of scheduling for this issue. Pull out your calendar and mark on Tuesday, January 3rd that you will take your clothes to Goodwill.

I’ve done this for a lot of miscellaneous tasks I need to complete over the break (i.e. order textbooks, mail old textbooks back, etc.) and I know that I will get them done and I won’t stress about them because I have it all scheduled!

Take a break if it stresses you out 

Feeling stressed out by creating the perfect Instagram feed? Take a break from the app for a few days. Feel stressed because you cannot get the best site design down for your blog? Step back for a few days. Feel stressed in a relationship? Spend some alone time. Feel stressed shopping? Go to Starbucks, grab a peppermint mocha, and sit this one out. Listen to your body and know when you need a time-out from something!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you have any other tips for dealing with holiday stress!