November 16, 2023

Family, friends and holiday events can be overwhelming. Learn how to keep things in balance this year.

Holidays are meant to be a time for relaxing and spending quality time with friends and family while enjoying your favorite dishes. However for many, getting to that relaxing day can cause a lot of stress.

Here are 10 tips to help make your holidays a (nearly) stress-free event:

  1. Manage expectations. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. The holidays rarely go exactly according to an ideal script. Expecting or aiming for perfection will inevitably create frustration and disappointment. Is the turkey a little dry? The world won’t end. Focus on enjoying your time with your loved ones.
  2. If you feel down, act the opposite. When feeling lonely or isolated, reach out for support. Visit friends, connect with your community and attend events. Want a friend that’s a little … fluffier? Check out volunteering opportunities at the Nashville Humane Association. Not only will you be helping homeless animals, there’s also a good chance they will help you feel happier and less stressed. Making the effort to do happy things can actually lift your spirits.
  3. Stay active. Often, the more stressed we feel, the easier it is to abandon exercise. Try to stick to your workouts and prioritize your healthy habits. Exercise burns off stress and improves mood. Looking for more quality family time amid the busyness of the holiday? Taking the whole family on a walk or run is a great way to achieve that time for quiet conversation while boosting everyone’s fitness.
  4. Manage portions. Have a slice of pecan pie (we sure will!), but not two or three. Overeating leads to feeling guilty, ashamed and frustrated. Stick to food choices and appropriate portions that won’t leave an aftertaste of bad feelings.
  5. Schedule your time. There is so much to do and so little time, so create a schedule and plan ahead. Schedule your day hour by hour for baking, shopping and social events. Schedule your exercise, time for yourself and especially your sleep. Allow more time for things than you think they’ll require, to build in a stress-proof cushion.
  6. Set boundaries. It is OK to say no! Saying yes when you feel like saying no can leave you feeling resentful and angry. Assert your needs and let loved ones know that you may not be able to do what is being asked of you. Friends, family and colleagues understand this is a busy time of year.
  7. Stick to a budget. Review your finances and create a budget for gifts and food ahead of time. Save money by creating homemade gifts or having a family gift exchange. In January, review what you spent so you can plan even better for next year’s holidays.
  8. Acknowledge your emotions. While in the short term it may be easier to avoid grieving losses or painful feelings, it is important to allow yourself time to feel your emotions. Acknowledge emotions and let yourself feel them, even if they’re not all joyful.
  9. Take time for yourself. Whether it is a 15-minute walk, soothing music, a warm bath or something else you enjoy, taking time for yourself recharges your batteries. It helps prevent holiday burnout and bad moods. If you can carve out more than 15 minutes, visit Shelby Bottoms Greenway and Nature Park. This oasis is just a few minutes from downtown Nashville and offers trails for walking, biking, running or quietly watching wildlife.
  10. Seek help. Talk to your doctor if your symptoms of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, physical complaints, inability to maintain routine or feelings of guilt linger. The national suicide hotline can be reached 24/7 by dialing 988.

Are your stress levels through the roof all year long? Here’s a guide to assessing your stress and how to get some relief.