Survive the Holidays in One Piece

Depending on your perspective and circumstance, holidays can range from festive lights, time with family, and cookies right out of the oven to traffic jams, overbooked parties, and screaming children on Santa’s lap. Can we get just one decent family photo?

We are here to provide some tips on how to make the best of whatever situation arises and keep your health and your life as smooth and beautiful as that first snowfall.

Find a Way to Relax

Bustling about like Santa’s reindeer on the big night is part of what makes the holiday season special. But even the busiest bee will eventually start channeling their inner Ebenezer Scrooge.  

Counter the parties, shopping, and other festivities with a way to unwind and relax. Apps like Headspace and Calm use meditation, natural images, and more to help people unwind. Alternatively, a quick YouTube search will turn up endless results for “calming music” or “meditation aid” or find a relaxing video of ocean waves or forest sounds. You could also try the real thing and go for a walk at the closest local park.

Whether it’s yoga, music, wine, exercise, essential oils, or an afternoon nap, find what works for you and stick to it so you can recharge and party hard all over again.

It’s Okay to Say “No.”

Your friends and family will still love you even if you can’t make every local craft and lights show they invite you to. If you think it’ll be fun, then go for it! But don’t feel the need to do something because social pressures say so. If you’re busy or work is exhausting or have a cold or just don’t feel like going out, it’s perfectly okay, and even healthy, to say “no.”  

Saying “no” is easier said than done - or not - you get the idea. A few tips are to avoid being too confrontational or whishy-washy. Point out that you appreciate the sentiment, even if you’re not feeling up to the task. Going into too much detail about why you’re turning the offer down ends up sounding awkward or like you’re making an excuse. Short, direct, polite, and brief are the best ways to go. You can also try rehearsing if you’re uber conflict avoidant, but make sure it doesn’t sound too rehearsed when it’s go time - or in this case no-go time.

Make a To-Do List

Just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean regular life is on pause. Dentist appointments, grocery shopping, and all that other fun adulting stuff still needs attending to. Making a list isn’t just good advice for Santa; you can take the pressure off having to remember everything and make sure nothing slips through the cracks just by jotting a few things down.  

There are tons of apps and online tools that can help you keep track of your to-do list. Apps like Todoist and Wunderlist will keep everything in one place conveniently on your phone and can even set up reminders so you’re extra prepared. Or you could always do things the old-fashioned way with a notebook or sticky notes and pen so you don’t have to make sure your list stays charged and get the satisfaction of crossing items off the list.

Get Enough Sleep

A healthy night’s sleep is essential to overall health and wellbeing. “Maximizing” your productiveness by cutting down on sleep will leave you lethargic, cranky, and ultimately less productive.

Start by tracking your sleep cycle which you can do with your FitBit, an app like Sleep Cycle or Sleep Time, or by keeping a pen-and-paper journal. You’ll find out how much sleep you’re actually getting.

Having trouble sleeping? Make sure you unplug before you go to bed and remove yourself from the harsh blue light emitted by most screens. Try doing a relaxing activity before bed instead, like yoga or reading, and use a sound machine to block out all the outside noise. If that doesn’t work, try a natural, non-habit forming sleep support supplement instead of questionable sleeping pills.

Set Realistic Expectations

Ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation? Holiday events never quite look like those picturesque Hallmark cards (but yours can’t possibly look worse than Clark Griswold’s). Set realistic expectations for cooking, parties, shopping, presents, and all other holiday events so you don’t end up disappointed when not everything goes exactly the way you envisioned it.  And just remember - nobody’s perfect and that everyone else is making holiday mistakes too.

Set a Budget

Here’s a sale, there’s a sale, every where’s a sale! The holidays are full of sales, shopping, and gift-giving. It’s easy to overspend when trying to find the perfect gift or noticing those shoes, even though you don’t really need a new pair, are on sale. Set a holiday budget for gifts, food, decor, and whatever else you think you’ll need. That way you won’t overspend, and, if you have some left over, can treat yourself (or someone else) to something really nice.

Try cutting down on your budget where you can. Pinteresting your holiday decor, goodies, and gifts might be a great alternative to traditional buying. And if sales are just too tempting, keep yourself busy doing something else like volunteering or exercising. Use an app to keep track of your budget like the super popular Mint, the easy-to-use You Need A Budget, or even paper, calculator, and pencil if that works best for you.

Heading Out? Grab a Snack

The holidays are full of sugary temptations that are great in moderation, but not so great for your health. Getting a craving while on-the-go means overeating at parties, buying everything that looks good at the store, or grabbing an unhealthy fast food alternative when the craving kicks in.

Find ways to avoid unexpected cravings. Keep track of your diet with an app like MyFitnessPal to help discourage bad food decisions. Before you go out, make sure you grab a healthy snack to avoid feeling hangry so you can keep your fitness goals in check during the holiday season.

Recognize the Signs

Even if the songs talk about feeling holly and jolly, sometimes you feel less like one of Santa’s elves and more like the Grinch. Common signs of the holiday blues include fatigue, tension, frustration, isolation or loneliness, sadness, or a sense of loss.

The first step to wellness is recognizing and acknowledging the problem. If you’ve got the grumps, the last thing you should do is ignore it. If something’s not working, take time to stop and think about what’s upsetting you. Make sure you dig to the deeper root of the issue (not enough “me” time) and not just identify the surface level problem (you keep yelling at your kids). But don’t linger on the negative for too long. Find your pain points and a possible solution like more sleep, less parties, or a Skype call home to get back in the holiday spirit.

Remember it’s Only Temporary

For better or for worse, the holiday season does come to an end. Keep that in mind the next time you’re ready to pull your hair out when your passive-aggressive in-laws are judging your cooking, or you’re stuck in another long line at the store. Just take a deep breath. Relax. And remember. This too, shall pass.

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