Getting a home-cooked dinner on the table this time of year is challenging. Between holiday shopping, holiday parties, cookie making, and the usual kid sports and activities, there isn’t much time to spare!
So while I’m going to give you my tips how to reduce holiday stress, I’ll get right to my conclusion: it’s really all about remembering to slow down and breathe. Do that and the rest will fall into place. This may seem counterintuitive to the go-go pace that is December, but it really helps lessen stress and in turn makes December more doable and enjoyable. Just try taking 5 deep breaths right now and see how it instantly calms you.
But if you still want my other 10 tips, here you are:
- First, take time for yourself. I love my morning routine, but this time of year I often snooze a little too long (thank you darkness!). But that’s ok, I adjust and make sure to fit in several forms of “me time” every week, here are some of my favorites:
- going to a yoga class
- getting outside to run or walk
- mediating (need help getting started? try the headspace app)
- cozying up with a cup of tea and a good book
- taking a bubble bath or even just a long shower
(During this time I make sure to turn my phone to silent or place it far away from me. It’s a nice break from the constant social media and phone buzz that can easily swallow your day. More on that in tip 9.)
- Get enough sleep. This one is seriously important and often the first to go. Waking up rested will leave you charged but calm (and more likely to make healthful eating choices).
- Eat well. Start your day with a nourishing breakfast (such as oatmeal, eggs, a smoothie bowl, or even breakfast cookies), and then just do your best to eat healthful snacks and meals for the rest of the day. (It’s the holiday season, so cut yourself some slack and remember that part of a balanced diet is including the foods that bring us joy!)
- Get exercise and fresh air. Both exercise and outdoor time can help lower your stress levels and lift your mood. Even if you think you have zero time for this, make time. Tell yourself you’ll just go for a super short run or take a 15-minute walk around the block. Chances are, once you get out there you will feel so good that you increase your goal!
- Tidy up your space. Take 20-30 minutes a day to tidy up. I’m not talking the whole house, but the spaces you use most. For me, that means a clean kitchen (amazing what even just decluttering and wiping the counters does), a clean family room, and a clean desk area. Overwhelmed? Set a timer for 10 minutes per area and go!
- Get festive. Put up some lights, change up your throw pillows, light candles, and create a cozy, uplifting ambiance.
- Be choosy. You don’t have to go to every holiday party. Your kids don’t have to attend every extra event or activity. You don’t have to make homemade gifts.
- Stay local. Skip the traffic and long drive to the mall and instead, support your local stores. If you can’t find what you need locally, order online.
- Limit device usage. These days we all spend too much time looking at our phones, computers, and handheld devices. Try checking your phone or email less often, maybe just once per hour instead of 16 times per hour!
- Finally, get some help with dinner! That’s right! While my number one goal with this blog is to inspire you to get in the kitchen and start cooking more, December may not the best time for learning new recipes. So make your favorite go-to dinners, look in the freezer for meals you may have already prepped, get help from your slow cooker or rice cooker, eat out or order take-out, eat leftovers, and if you do try a new recipe, make it a simple one.
Of course, you don’t have to do any of this–the last thing I want to do is add items to your “should-do list.” So be choosy, and if nothing else, remember to:
Slow down and take several long deep breaths and repeat whenever you find yourself getting caught up in the holiday frenzy (or just regular life stress). Come back to your breath. Doing this will calm you and bring to light what’s really important. (And it’s not making perfect cookies or finding perfect presents).
So I guess technically this was 11 tips, but really the breathing tip you can combine with all of them! Well, maybe not when you’re sleeping, but taking slow deep breaths can definitely relax you and help you fall asleep.