Let’s get real. Though this season is filled with cheer, festivities and joy, it can also come with increased stress. For someone that battles anxiety as it is, I so understand the overwhelm that the holiday season often brings. It might mean late night studying for finals, long travels, hosting guests, cooking epic meals, purchasing gifts and more.
But fear not! I’ve collected tips and tricks that have helped me combat my own anxiety throughout graduate school and life in general. While I try to keep these in mind all year round, never are they more important than this wonderful, merry and…well, stressful…time of year.
Take a Minute to Meditate
Even if it’s truly just one minute of your day, close your eyes and breathe. Personally, I used to think it was all or nothing when it comes to meditation. If I didn’t get in a full 10-20 minute session, it was a complete fail. In reality, life happens, and my mornings often fly by before I even realize I forgot to meditate.
Take a moment right after your alarm goes off or when you’re alone in your car. You also might have to excuse yourself from company to just recenter. This small break from the craziness will not only make you feel better but will also allow you to respond more intentionally to whatever the day has in store.
Don’t Feel Bad For Saying No
Something I’ve been working on this past year is realizing when I need to protect myself and my energy by turning down opportunities at times. Your social calendar is likely filling up the closer we get to the holidays, and in order to show up present and as your best self, take some time to reset and relax if necessary. Prioritize what’s really important to you, say yes to events and activities that bring you joy, and politely decline anything else that drains your energy or happiness.
Get a Sweat In When You Can
Easier said than done at times, I’m aware, but personally nothing sets me up for a great day more than a good sweat. Schedule a class or connect with a workout buddy ahead of time so it’s on your schedule. But likewise don’t worry when entertaining company and juggling a million things takes you off of your typical workout routine – it will happen, and it’s actually needed at times!
So embrace the rest days if they come, and enjoy the opportunities to escape and get a little sweat in when you can. The endorphins and time spent focussing on you will boost your mood and allow you to return to the celebration on a high note.
Embrace ALL of the Festivities
Try to live the holidays through the eyes of a child. Bake cookies, listen to Christmas music nonstop, wear red and green, whip out your lights and decorations and allow yourself to really take part in the joy. As we get older, the stress this time of year brings can inevitably take away from the pure enjoyment we once felt. Tapping into the holiday spirit not only makes you happier, but it also forces you to not take everything so seriously!
Plan Healthy Activities With Your Family
I’m lucky that my family loves head to the gym or take a CorePower sculpt class together, which is beneficial for all of our moods this time of year. Whether your own family is similar or not, encourage a sibling, parent, cousin or whoever to join in on something wholesome with you. It can be as simple as taking a walk, hitting a yoga class or grabbing a smoothie in the morning. The activity alone will make you feel good, plus it allows you to connect and catch up with one another!
Amp Up Your Morning Drink
If you know you’re going to have a cup (or two) of coffee or matcha when you wake up, why not make your morning drink work for you? Including some stress-reducing adaptogens and superfoods such as ashwagandha, tulsi, maca and rhodiola is a simple way to help combat anxiety and take your daily routine to the next level.
If you’re open to it, I also suggest switching to matcha this time of year as it contains L-theanine, an amino acid with proven relaxing and calming properties. Read more about why I’ve largely transitioned to matcha in my How I Kicked My Caffeine Addiction (And Can Still Enjoy Coffee) post!
Also, give my go-to apple cider vinegar drink a try first thing in the morning to kick it off on the right foot. Read my What I Drink Every Morning & Why blog post for all of the benefits.
Say Yes to Self Care
Whether it’s a face mask, your favorite latte, acupuncture, an infrared sauna session or massage, I’m all about slipping in small acts of kindness to ourselves. In this season of giving, it’s incredibly important to give back to those in our lives and communities. But it’s equally as important to show yourself kindness by resting and recharging your mind, body and spirit. The holidays are a break for a reason, so allow time and space to reassess and then return to your routine after the festivities are over feeling rejuvenated.
Eat Foods That Make You Feel Good
And I’m referring to what fills you up – body AND spirit! Personally, I make it a priority to seek out healthy meals when available, as wholesome, nutritious foods make me feel my best. But Christmas cookies, a festive cocktail and my mom’s famous orange rolls likewise fill my heart and soul with joy. Embrace the seasonal goodies without guilt, but you also don’t need to apologize for putting your health and happiness first as well. You do YOU!
Cut Yourself Some Slack
You. Can’t. Do. It. All.
Read that again. For anyone as type A as myself, this is often an incredible challenge. And with longer to-do lists this holiday season, I can easily find myself frantic and burned out trying to squeeze in too much each day. But something I’m working on is learning to take a breath, acknowledge what I did get done and be comfortable with the fact that everything might not be “perfect” 100% of the time. A missed workout, a social event you have to back out of, a last minute present that might not be wrapped the way you wish – none of it really matters at the end of the day.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the craziness that the holidays bring, embracing the joy, taking some time for ourselves and most importantly, keeping in mind the real reason for the season are key. I’ll also be taking my own advice to heart with all of the tips above to navigate these next few weeks with grace and happiness 🙂 .
Wishing everyone a festive and memorable Christmas!