Does thinking about the upcoming holidays cause your shoulders to tighten in knots? You’re not alone.
From shopping for gifts to wrapping up end-of-year projects at work to spending extended periods of time with family, the "most wonderful time of year” can quickly become the most stressful.
As a life coach who helps people navigate challenges and cultivate joy for a living, here are my top seven tips for experiencing more happiness and tranquility this time of year:
1. Take A Stay-cation
When you lack the funds and PTO necessary for a full-blown getaway, it’s easy to feel deprived. But, a weekend stay-cation can be just as restorative (and much more wallet-friendly).
You can play tourist in your own city or just clock some quality time with your Netflix queue.
The key is to let yourself off the hook from your usual “to dos” and simply unwind within a pre-set time constraint. Bonus points for taking an email and phone sabbatical.
2. Invest In A Spa Treatment
With the focus on buying gifts for others this time of year, it’s easy to forget to give to yourself, as well.
Whether you splurge on a new hairstyle, a mani-pedi or a much-needed massage, there’s nothing like spending some time on your favorite lady-pampering activities to boost your spirits.
If you feel guilty spending money on yourself during the holidays, remember, by practicing self-care, you will be able to show up more powerfully and radiantly wherever you go. You will be of much greater service to the world.
3. Hack Your Diet
Holiday gatherings and high-calorie food can often go hand-in-hand, leaving many of us resigned to weight gain and sluggishness this time of year.
But, according to Andrew Herr, health and human performance expert and CEO of Mind + Matter, “A few tricks can keep spirits high (and the number on the scale low) come January.”
Herr recommends popping a couple of fish oil capsules before a big meal to decrease inflammation, filling half your plate with vegetables and opting for apples and honey or dark chocolate over traditional deserts.
But, if pecan pie and other confections are non-negotiable, Andrew advises adding half a teaspoon of cinnamon on top to help maintain blood sugar levels and minimize the spike and crash.
4. Move Your Body
Whether you want to buff up, run a 5k or just work off all the eggnog lattes, hitting the gym and generating endorphins is a great way to beat stress this time of year.
The best tip I have for sticking to an exercise routine is to schedule sweat sessions ahead of time, like you would an actual meeting or event.
Once it’s in your calendar, it becomes more real. And, if you’re on a budget from all the holiday shopping, try out a new studio or gym.
Many offer discounts and provide fun ways to meet people and mix up your workout routine.
5. Get Festive
One of the best ways to beat the holiday blues is to lean in to rather than resist the seasonal festivities. Why not string up some twinkling lights, create a holiday playlist, make a gingerbread house or buy gifts for underprivileged children?
When you connect with the child-like excitement and magic of the holidays, you’ll feel less scrooge-like when you’re forced to attend your boring office holiday party or suffer through long lines at stores.
While sitting still and tuning into your breath is powerful any time of year, it’s a particularly helpful tool for dealing with the inevitable hustle and bustle of the holidays.
To get started, simply sit on a pillow or meditation cushion, set a timer for five minutes and breathe.
When thoughts float into your mind, don’t judge them or beat yourself up for meditating "imperfectly."
Simply notice the thoughts and then let them drift away, then return your attention to your inhale and exhale.
Start practicing this first thing in the morning, and I can guarantee you will feel an increased sense of calm and happiness throughout your day (and all season long)!
7. Get Your Priorities Straight
When your inbox is bursting with holiday party invites and last-minute requests, it’s easy to end up short on time and high on commitments.
To avoid feeling overwhelmed, life and business coach Katie DePaola advocates getting clear about what’s important and saying no to the rest.
If bringing a store-bought pastry to Friendsgiving (rather than baking one from scratch) provides an extra hour to hit the yoga mat or spend more time with loved ones, do it,” she advises. “Choosing love and wellness over ‘perfection’ goes a long way when it comes to preserving your sanity this time of year.
I hope this list helps get you in the mental state necessary to truly savor all the gift-giving, party-hopping and merry-making this season has to offer.
Do you have any other advice for feeling great over the next few months? If so, please share in the comments below!