Ahh, the holidays. They’re a time of making endless lists (plus checking them twice), gathering ‘round the fire with friends, and casually sipping eggnog, right? Well, not necessarily.
For some of us, the festive season of Noel isn’t entirely about having ourselves a merry little Christmas and jingling all the way. Instead, many people spend the last few months of the year dealing with the overwhelming stresses of gift-giving, putting up Christmas decorations, Christmas party planning, fussing over the Christmas dinner menu, and getting it all done.1 While it’s normal to feel stressed around the festive period, Christmas anxiety can get too much for some people. You may even recognize yourself or a family member dealing with it.
Fortunately, there are ways to stay chill despite frigid temps, packed schedules, and familial expectations. Below, we’ve outlined some of our top science-based tips to avoid holiday stress, like staying active, powering down your phone, and keeping up with self-care.
Looking for a healthy way to wind down after that hectic trip to the mall or White Elephant exchange with coworkers? Instead of reaching for the remote or scrolling social media, head outside or hit the gym for a little rest and relaxation on the go.
Stress may be an inevitable part of the holiday season, but exercise is a tried and tested method of blowing off some steam. According to the American Psychological Association, periods of physical activity actually reduce levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine while increasing levels of endorphins.2
Tip: If you’re finding it hard to squeeze in the workouts, here are some other activities that will get you on your feet and get that heart rate up:
While most of us welcome the hearty meals out with loved ones and the necessary cookies, cakes, and candies that tend to show up around the office in the winter months, by the end of the holidays, many people find themselves craving a return to vegetables, complex carbohydrates, and normalcy.
And it’s no wonder—diets high in sugary staples and processed foods lead to inflammation that’s been linked to symptoms of fatigue, such as:
Our advice? Start the day strong with lean protein and fiber (eggs on whole wheat toast are a good bet). Steer clear of those candy dishes scattered throughout the office and try to cook as many meals as possible.
When you do find yourself at a Christmas party, try to fill up on unsalted nuts and other protein sources and avoid tricky sources of excess calories like sliders, mini quiches, and chicken tenders.
Sure, the holidays are supposed to be about giving rather than receiving gifts. But that simply doesn’t mean you should skimp on self-care. Prioritize your mental health and well-being, especially when holiday stress is high.
Self-care practices, much like warm cups of hot cocoa, are meant to nourish and soothe your soul. During the holiday season, take some time to relax by yourself by:
While everyone’s self-care regimen looks a little different, pampering can also mean surrounding yourself with snug touches that promote a calming environment. Filling your space with cozy blankets, light music, or mood lights can lessen the feelings of chaos and establish a safe space where you can escape the holiday hustle and bustle.
A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that 65% of Americans cite money as a major source of stress, and at no time is money more on our minds than during the festive season.4
No wonder so many of us are suffering from holiday fatigue syndrome!
One way to fend off financial worries? Set a budget for the holiday months and stick to it. Your bills will be more likely to balloon within reason, and your wallet will thank you come springtime.
Some ideas for keeping spending down during the biggest shopping period of the year include:
Remember, if you plan to stay on budget, you must budget time to plan.
A regular lack of sleep can be an extraordinary source of stress. Skimp on those Zs, and you’ll have trouble performing at work and engaging with the little ones during story time. Maintain a deficit for too long, and you might be putting yourself at risk for chronic health conditions.
But there’s another negative side effect of not getting enough sleep, and that’s a heightened sense of stress. According to one study, there’s evidence that insufficient sleep may negatively impact your mood, diminishing your Christmas cheer.5
This holiday, keep stress at bay by prioritizing time spent in slumber. Gift yourself a merry memory-foam mattress or deck your bedroom in accessories and tech that aid relaxation, like weighted blankets, mood lighting, and silky-soft sleep mask sets.
You should also aim to hit the hay for at least 7 to 8 hours every night—yes, even on Christmas Eve.
A holiday party on Tuesday night. Friendsgiving on Wednesday. A Christmas tree trimming ceremony on Thursday. A hay ride on Friday. With so many holiday activities to be enjoyed, our schedules sure can fill up fast with social events. But if eyeing your jam-packed calendar makes your shoulders sag, chances are you’re probably overextending yourself and letting in added holiday anxiety.
In a perfect world, we’d attend every gift-wrapping party, charity gala, and celebratory meal in sight. In reality? It’s just not possible to make every social gathering every time.
In this situation, ensure that you’re setting aside time for yourself to keep your energy levels up, spending reasonably, and stressing as little as possible. We know it’s hard to tell people no, so we’ve rounded up a few ideas to get you started:
Sometimes, we all need a break from the world, and what’s an easier way to escape into the meta-void than by pulling out our phones and scrolling our favorite social media apps?
The problem with this is that while zoning out on social can feel soothing at the moment, it actually doesn’t allow our brains to rest. One recent study found that social media use triggered social media fatigue, which was later compounded by symptoms like:
While the holidays are all about spending time with loved ones, social media offers just one way to do this. Make merry IRL by carving out moments for coffee or walks to connect with loved ones in a stress-free way.
While malls and shopping centers offer a nostalgic way to pick out thoughtful gifts, the bustling atmosphere of mid-holiday shopping can sometimes overwhelm even the most festive of window-shoppers.
One way to avoid the madness? Try and get Christmas shopping done during your off hours, like before work or late at night. It’s more likely your giftees will make the “nice list” if you’re shopping with peace of mind.
Another trick? Get your Christmas shopping done online (with a glass of eggnog in hand). Many popular brands offer their own gift shops with affordable, trendy, and useful stocking stuffers and essentials that can be purchased and shipped from the comfort of your home.
Unfortunately, the end of the year isn’t the cheeriest time for too many people. At times, the holidays can feel like an all-out competition to gift the biggest ticket items, throw the baddest parties, and achieve 24-7 happiness. Possible? Not even close.
This year, try to cultivate a mindset focused on gratitude. While easier said than done, you can create ways to remind yourself of all there is to be thankful for with a few simple steps:
Tip: Always remember that while you can’t change how stressful the holidays may feel, you can change how you respond.
We get it. The holidays aren’t always all about eating, drinking, and being merry. Sometimes, we need to find ways to rest and recharge. At Casper, that’s our specialty.
We’ve spent years studying the magic and science of sleep. And the deeper we dug, the more we realized that great sleep is about more than just an outrageously comfortable mattress, pillowy bedding, and sugar-plum-plump pillows (although that certainly helps).
That’s why we created the Casper Blog, where we share everything we’ve tirelessly learned about the power of rest. Browse tips for R&R, style guides for the bedroom, sleep products, and more today by adding the Casper Blog to your holiday plans.