There's a lot of stress that comes along with the holidays (political arguments with problematic family members, financial stress, emotional exhaustion etc.), but there’s plenty of ways to actually enjoy the holiday season without getting drunk on mulled wine at Thanksgiving or freaking out over what to buy for a Secret Santa exchange. Here are five tips that will help fight your holiday-stress overload!
Go Into Family Get-Togethers With a Game Plan
Let’s be real: we all know which family members are probably going to push our buttons. So, if you need to avoid Aunt Sally so she won’t ask you why you’re still single, just do it. Also, don't be afraid to step away if you need to. If arguments get too heated, take a break and spend a little time alone. It’s best to know ahead of time a good place to hide away when the family dynamics get too overwhelming (warning: it might have to be the basement). Just stash some cookies and a phone charger down there and you’re good to go.
One of the best ways to overcome holiday-induced stress is to donate or volunteer. Take some time out of your busy schedule to help serve meals at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, or buy gifts to drop off at a local toy drive. If you’re feeling especially generous, consider donating to organizations and nonprofits that need your support now more than ever, like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF), Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Of course, the easiest way to pay it forward is to simply practice random acts of kindness. Leave a nice note for a classmate or coworker that you like to be around or pay for someone’s meal when you’re pulling through the drive-through. Whatever you choose, giving back will definitely de-stress you and remind you what the holidays are really about. (Cue cheesy holiday music!)
Don’t Let Gift-Giving Consume You
Newsflash: you don’t have to give gifts to everyone you know. It’s too stressful and, honestly, unnecessary. If you’re still really wanting to give away lots of gifts but money is your main concern, try making some DIY gifts. DIY gifts are awesome for so many reasons: they’re inexpensive (and sometimes free), easy to personalize, and they allow you to actually put effort into creating something for someone you care about. Plus, you can avoid crowded malls and take some time off to craft in the comfort of your own home. 10/10 would recommend.
Ditch the Gifts
Speaking of cheap and stress-free fun, consider ditching the overwhelming gift-giving and stuffy dinner parties altogether for a more laid-back and low-key holiday party. Invite just a few of your closest friends over and celebrate the season without getting too fancy. Host a Friendsgiving, hold a pajama party and have all your friends bring their favorite holiday movies, or do some holiday gift DIY-ing together instead of giving each other gifts. There’s tons of easy and entertaining holly jolly things you could do with friends that are way less stressful than a traditional holiday party. Like cookie decorating! Or a cheesy Hallmark movie drinking game! The limit (of holiday cheer) does not exist!
Have Some Quality Home Alone Time
Going to constant holiday parties, events, and even family dinners can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Give yourself a break by sitting down to watch a holiday movie marathon, eat some cookie dough (without feeling bad about it!), or just get some sleep. This includes taking a break from work—put your phone to the side, turn off your email notifications, and just relax. You deserve it! Do yourself a solid and watch Home Alone (while you’re home alone)—I promise you won’t regret it. Happy holidays, ya filthy animals!
Cover Image by Jodeci Zimmerman