reduce holiday stress

There is no doubt that the holiday season is a wonderful time of year. But according to numerous polls, it can also bring stress and anxiety to the majority of adult Canadians. On average, between 65 and 80 per cent of us say that our stress levels spike – whether it’s “somewhat” or “significantly” – in December. This is due to a variety of factors, including too many social engagements, excessive spending, unfinished year-end business, and not getting enough exercise or sleep. Add in those post-party regrets for having overindulged or purchased the wrong gift, and suddenly you’re left feeling far more miserable than merry.

This holiday season, why not give you and your family the gift of health and wellness? Here are some easy ways to reduce holiday stress and focus on what matters—each other. ‘Tis this season to be jolly, after all.

  1. Don’t drown yourself in obligations – This first (and most important) rule for maintaining your holiday cool is to know your social limits and set reasonable boundaries. Remember, the holidays are about relaxing and reconnecting with loved ones—not over-committing to parties that don’t bring you any meaning or joy. Of course, we all have those few obligatory functions that we simply cannot miss, but every invitation shouldn’t be met with an automatic yes. Look at the calendar, and if you feel your pulse start to race for no reason, consider revising your schedule to include more free time.

  2. Turn off those devices – Remember the good old days when family members would hunker together in front of a cozy fire after dinner, or even relax in the same room in front of one communal TV screen? Throughout the holidays, make it a family rule to shut off those personal devices, even for an hour or two to catch an annual holiday special, wrap presents or bake cookies. Instead of scrolling endlessly through other people’s social media posts, focus on creating real memories with those who matter.

  3. Get outside and embrace winter – It can be tempting to stay indoors and bask in the beauty of your holiday décor, but studies show that getting outside is critical to our mental health and wellness. So bundle up and head outside for a walk. It could be as simple as touring the neighbourhood, hiking in a nearby ravine, or venturing off to some magical outdoor skating rink. Every minute spent in nature is one you won’t regret.

  4. Let go of the reins – Whether you’re a prize-winning pastry chef, an avid baker, or someone who just loves to host dinner parties, the holidays can be draining for culinary types who have a hard time letting go of the cooking reins. Remember, it’s okay—and beneficial— to drop that whisk and let someone else whip up the holiday fare from time to time. And as an added bonus, just think of the mess you won’t have to clean up.

  5. Be present – No matter where you are or who you are with, being present is the very best present you can give yourself and your family. Ten years from now, your children won’t likely remember that new toy they unwrapped Christmas morning, or the fifteenth treat they ate that day, but for the rest of their lives, they will bask in the memories of laughter, love and joy that came from your undivided presence. There’s no greater holiday gift than that.

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