How to Stay Centered and Reduce Stress During the Holidays
If you feel extra stressed out over the holidays, you’re not alone. A survey from 2015 found that most people feel their stress is elevated at this time of year. Only ten percent responded that they feel no stress during the holidays.
All this disruption to your normal routine is bound to impact your sleep too, making stress even worse. You can combat the dreaded holiday stress-sleep cycle by taking steps to stay centered, mindful, and positive.
Why This Time of Year Is So Stressful
The holidays are supposed to be a joyful, festive time of year. And that’s part of the problem. One reason you may experience more stress right now is expectations. You’re supposed to be having fun, enjoying family time, putting up decorations, and going to parties. When you can’t live up to it all, your mental health suffers.
Some other reasons the holidays induce stress include family fights and difficult conversations; financial problems, such as overspending or not having enough money; battling crowds while traveling and shopping; and simply feeling overwhelmed by everything, especially if you already struggle with anxiety or depression.
How Holiday Stress Sabotages Your Sleep
According to the American Psychological Association, stress and poor sleep go hand in hand. When stress levels go up, sleep suffers. Stress triggers drops in both quantity and quality of sleep. Poor or limited sleep, in turn, triggers stress. During the holidays this cycle of stress and decreased sleep can be heightened.
Managing Holiday Stress
Being proactive is a great way to make sure stress doesn’t take over this year. Follow these tips to stay centered each day, to sleep better, and to manage stress as it rises.
- Budget. Few things cause more worry than money. To get spending in hand, plan ahead. Make a budget for your spending over the year and stick to it to maintain control over this one element of holiday stress.
- Simplify plans. Stress is generated by a full plate. Be reasonable about what you can take on, and know when to say no to party invitations, gift-giving, and seasonal events. Be kind to yourself by saying “no” in order to maintain your mental health.
- Make a list and a schedule. Outline what you can do and what you want to do for the season and create a to-do list to stay organized. Schedule activities, so that you know you have time for everything. For instance, set aside one day just for shopping or another for baking.
- Meditate. Staying centered means taking time to focus on the present moment and how you feel in it. Mindfulness meditation is one way to do that. It is both a powerful antidote for stress and a good way to prepare for a better night’s sleep. BetterSleep has built-in meditation exercises you can use each night before bed. Consider trying one of their gratitude meditations to remind yourself what this season is all about.
- Take care of you. Meditation is a great way to take time to manage your own mental health. Also make sure your other healthy habits stay on track. When you continue to eat well, to exercise regularly, and to sleep enough, you will be able to manage your stress with more success.
- Take breathers. Use your quick meditation exercises during those crazy moments when pressure and stress mount to an unbearable level. If you have to, even in the middle of a party, step outside for ten minutes of deep breathing or meditation. You’ll feel better for it.
Stress is an unfortunately big part of the season for many people. Don’t let it ruin your holidays. Prevent it with good planning and thoughtful limitations. And use mindfulness, meditation, and sleep to stay healthy and centered.
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