It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .
. . . until you’re up to your ears in soirees, balancing family gatherings, and crossing your fingers that you didn’t forget someone from your list of Christmas-card recipients (and they won’t really mind if they’re sent in January, right?).
Between white elephant gift exchanges and secret family recipes, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to just breathe.
If any of this strikes a chord, or you’re already nervously eyeing the next few weeks on your calendar, here are some ways to de-stress and relax during one of the busiest times of the year:
Plan ahead & save the headache
Do yourself a favor and set aside an hour to plan now instead of waiting until the last minute to prep for upcoming get togethers.
Try making two lists: one for cards and gifts, and the other for events.
For the first list, make a list of everyone you’d like to send cards or gifts, then add notes on ideas you have for each of them, as well as their mailing address or when you’ll see them next. For me, laying this out helps me visually group people together and make sure I’m not leaving anyone out.
For the second list, jot down events you have throughout the holidays: family dinners, religious services, work parties, and even local events. It can even be helpful to pull out your calendar so you can see how the events are distributed (maybe you have days with multiple events, for example). Next to each event, map out important information, like the time, location, what you’re wearing, and what you need to bring (are you cooking a dish, or do you just need a hostess gift?).
If you’re hosting an event, it’s also a good idea to keep any information you need in one place, like a guest list with RSVPs and who’s bringing what to dinner. From there, you can set reminders to minimize any last-minute panic or forgotten details.
Schedule time to unwind
This sounds counterintuitive, but stay with me here! As selfish as this sounds, I promise it’s not. Now that you know when your obligations are throughout the season, pick a few times to set aside for yourself to relax. Mark them on your calendar and block off your schedule so you remember to keep those times sacred.
If something comes up during those times, politely decline. It’s okay to say no, and it’s okay to say you have a prior commitment if you feel an excuse is necessary. No one will fault you for taking care of yourself—and you’ll probably enjoy the busy occasions that much more.
Identify things that make you feel happy and energized, and make those a priority during those times! Read a book that you’ve been dying to dig into. Grab a glass of wine and hop into a bubble bath. Give yourself an at-home spa evening with a fresh manicure and your favorite face mask (I’m in love with this resurfacing mask from Tata Harper). Or if you’re feeling extra fancy, schedule a massage or pedicure, see a movie, go out to your favorite restaurant—whatever makes you feel your best and helps clear your mind! #TreatYoSelf
During this season, it’s also especially important to stick to healthy habits that ground you when life feels chaotic. I love using the Headspace app for quick, daily meditation, or you can try Rituals or Simple Habit, which has a “holiday stress” specific meditation (use code AIOCL for 2 weeks free) and for other tailored programs. Keep a journal of things that brighten your mood throughout the day. Brew some herbal tea before bed. Stock your fridge with easy, healthy options between rich indulgences (but hey, don’t skip out on those either!).
Don’t be married to tradition
Upholding tradition for the sake of tradition is one of the quickest ways to burnout during the holidays. Just because “you’ve always done it” doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your sanity to continue.
Values evolve, families grow, people move to new cities, and best of all, new traditions are formed! Do what works best for your where you are. But if you do love certain festivities and feel like you’ll be missing out, by all means, stick to what brings you joy and embrace what’s important to you.
If you’re looking for new traditions, consider new takes on old ideas: have a themed photoshoot with your closest friends, hold a gift exchange with your coworkers, or get together with your neighbors for a winter brunch instead of a big dinner. If you’re in a new city, find things that make it special, like concerts, tree lightings, shopping events, or volunteer opportunities that embrace holiday cheer.
Remember the reasons behind it all
Above all, take it easy and roll with the punches. Don’t let the details bog you down or allow others’ opinions to rule your commitments. Be flexible and accept that things won’t always work perfectly into your plan. Take things one day at a time and live in each moment.
It’s so, so important to remember why the season is important to you, whether it’s spending time with friends and family, showing other why you appreciate them, or just celebrating the year and what you’ve accomplished.
Happy holidays, loves! May this holiday season be the best one yet. 🙂
The Style Theory Collective has your back this holiday season: shop greeting cards, stocking stuffers, oh-so-soft sweaters, and other great gifts that your friends and family will adore.