One week from tomorrow and Thanksgiving here in the states will be upon us. The Macy’s parade is prepping, the holiday shopping sale emails have started to arrive in the inbox and the markets are stocked and ready for the masses to cook the traditional favorites. In fact, I felt the shift last weekend as my local bakery began playing holiday music in the store. Yes, I do believe it is here.
Some of us have probably been playing the holiday tunes for weeks, while others are reluctantly succumbing to the reality of all of the expectations and busy travel plans and spending of money. But wait. I have a few ideas for ensuring that no matter how you may be feeling right now, you too can enjoy the holidays and walk away de-stressed upon the new year’s arrival. Take a look below:
1.Plan a holiday getaway not associated with expectations (i.e. Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas)
A study in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life revealed that it is the anticipation prior to the trip that typically helps to reduce your stress level. Additionally, if the vacation you partake in can be described as “very relaxing” as opposed to “relaxing” (in other words, the travel was smooth and uneventful, nothing negatively unexpected happen), you will have a few weeks of residual reduction in stress upon your return.
So why not plan a getaway now that takes place after the holidays have wrapped up, perhaps a new way to welcome the new year or not even associated with any particular date at all, and let the knowledge of knowing you have a vacation coming ease your holiday stress?
2. Fly Delta
It was recently announced that Delta will be able to allow you to track your luggage this holiday travel season. Simply using their app, your phone will be alerted as to where precisely your bag is upon leaving your possession (belly of the plane, unloaded, etc.).
3. Travel on the holiday itself
The New York Times recently suggested that traveling on Thanskgiving, December 25th and December 31st is close to guaranteed to reduce your stress levels. Not only are there fewer travelers en route, but the prices you will pay will be reduced up to 11% compared to other dates in proximity.
4. Cook what you love
Cook the meal, the dishes, you feel will taste the best. If it’s not turkey, try lamb, seafood or anything else that you and your guests will love. Remember, it’s about creating a memorable experience and the opportunity to enjoy delicious food, no matter what the entree, is a simple way to bring everyone to agree and appreciate the same thing.
5. Adopt uni-tasking
Author of 77 Simple Strategies for Serenity Kate Hanely reminds us of the power of focusing on one task at a time.
6. Cement your physical fitness routine
In other words, of all the daily routines you don’t want to let slide, your physical fitness regimen is at the top. Even if it requires you to mix up the activities you partake in (perhaps skiing instead of walking, ice skating instead of pilates), fiercely protect your type of exercise. It not only will keep you in your favorite jeans and looking svelte in your holiday attire, but it will reduce your stress.
Simply by walking with visiting family and friends can act as a de-stressor as nutrition and wellness expert Ann Kulze MD. points out the rhythm and repetition can act like a tranquilizer on the brain welcoming a better night’s sleep and decreased anxiety.
7. Hang on to your friend time
Maybe there will be more family time during the holidays, but don’t forget the respite with your friends will provide. Even if the conversation is shorter, make time to sit down and have some coffee or chat on the phone. The reprieve will help you to catch your breath and not blow anything out of proportion and maybe even encourage you to laugh about it.
8. Let in more light
Daylight that is. Open the curtains and blinds at home, at work and wherever and whenever the sun can shine in. Exposure to nature, natural light, can work wonders on our mind and liberate the physical confinements that cold and shorter days might bring.
9. Be mindful of your budget
The goal: arrive on January 2nd with a smile and money in the bank. Whether you are spending on gifts, travel, food or entertainment, understanding that November and December celebrations will not last forever (phew!) is reason to be clear about your budget and what you can afford. Having a priority list of traditions you most cherish and people you want to see can help make it easier when you have to say no to invitations you may receive.
10. Stick to your daily routine as much as possible
The parts of your daily routine that bring you calm, offer the balance that you need, keep them in your schedule whether the holidays have arrived or not. Perhaps it’s daily meditation, or your regular breakfast that fuels you up and satiates your palette or maybe the weekly fitness class, choose to refuse to eliminate them from your routine as you will be a better “you” for all of the people you love who you will be sharing the holiday season with.
And with that, welcome to the holidays. May yours be exactly what you are hoping it will be and with an extra dose of special moments and memories to savor for many years to come.
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