It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of planning and prepping for holidays, not to mention the pressures of travel, finances and sometimes even family time. It is important to take a breather and remind ourselves to tune in, slow down and take a step back.
Here are six strategies for having a stress-less holiday season.
Let go of perfection. Good enough is almost always good enough. It’s OK if the decorations or gift-wrapped presents or platters of party food don’t turn out exactly as envisioned. It’s also OK to over-indulge a bit with food or drink, as long as we refocus and get back on track. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves and worry so much about little things that the obsession with perfection prevents us from being truly connected and truly enjoying the moment.
Surround ourselves with the positive. This applies to people as well as media and social media. Seek out the friends, family and coworkers who uplift you, those who leave you feeling more energized after you’re around them.
The same goes for what we choose to listen to, read and watch. A constant influx of negative news and beyond-attainable media and social media images can leave us feeling “less than.” Instead, or at least in addition to, these outlets, look for positive messages. From spirit-boosting Instagram feeds to inspiring podcasts to motivational reads, the options are there, we just need to take the time to seek them out.
Splurge selectively. I’m a big fan of negotiating with ourselves for worthy indulgences and not feeling guilty about it. if you love the homemade fudge, have it. Just skip the so-so cookies. If savory, homemade cheese straws are your thing, enjoy them while they last but dial back on the bread, rice and pasta.
Plenty of delicious and healthier options are available these days, including better-for-you all-natural, low-carb and no-sugar-added treats, many also gluten free. We shared three yummy cookie recipesa few weeks back, and a host of good-for-you peppermint finds, including low-carb, gluten-free Candy Cane scones and a DIY Iced Peppermint Latte.
If eggnog is your weakness, try Califia Farms’ Holiday Nog. It is my favorite lighter version of eggnog, with about 75 percent fewer calories and two-thirds less sugar than traditional eggnog, but still a decent level of flavor and richness.
Read labels carefully and mix better-for-you options in with the holiday treats.
Balance the booze. Alcohol is celebratory for many, but it’s also easy to fall into the habit of relying on it to help us unwind. In reality, science shows us that regular drinking heightens anxiety levels and reduces our threshold for dealing with stress.
If you drink, do it in moderation. And while the definition of “moderate” is different for different people, use this rule of thumb: Two drinks for women, three for men, and ideally not more than two or three times a week.
Carve out time for your regular routine. Fundamental elements of self-care are essential for our mental and physical well-being. These include adequate sleep, clean eating and regular exercise. Even if you feel like you’re pressed for time, carve out a bit of time to shop for healthy food and drink to have on hand, squeeze in an abbreviated workout or meet a friend for a walk-and-talk instead of drinks. Your body will thank you, and your friends and family will, too, as you’ll undoubtedly feel at least a notch more relaxed and peaceful.
Make time for gratitude. Gratitude doesn’t have to be saved for life’s biggest moments. It starts with an appreciation for the little things in our daily lives. A delicious meal, no matter how simple, spending time with people we enjoy, or even a handwritten note to let friends and family know how much we appreciate them can give us the opportunity to reflect and express gratitude.