Just like how holiday decorations keep hitting store shelves earlier and earlier, it feels like holiday stress comes on earlier every year as well. Even when you are just thinking about the family visits, cooking, and shopping it can be enough to loose sleep over. While it can be a roller coaster full of ups and downs, the holiday season doesn’t have to be so stressful. And it certainly shouldn’t be a time for loosing sleep. Which is why we are going to go over all the ways to help manage your schedule and “to do” list so you don’t let holiday stress ruin your sleep.
Everyone has different priorities. Which is why it is important to know what they are and make sure they line up with your time, goals and financial situation. Making a clear plan of what you want to fit into your holiday season is a great start.
When it comes to prioritizing your Christmas Season Schedule, talk to your family and friends early. Make sure you book dates and times for those who you absolutely know you want to spend the majority of your time with. This will help make sure you don’t accidentally sign up for the office party on the same evening as your best friends holiday extravaganza.
Also, know your budget and limitations. Perhaps your family lives in a different state, or continent for that matter, and you miss them dearly and REALLY want to go visit. However, if you are scrapping by on pennies, this might not be the best year to travel back to go see them. Instead, make a game plan and save money for a later trip. And find a way to video chat and call them more often in the meantime. Your family will be happy to see you whenever you can afford to visit them.
Keeping your priorities in check will be a great way to rule out unneeded stress. Rule of thumb, make time for what is really important and say no to distractions. Which brings up our next point, don’t be afraid to just say NO.
It’s Okay To Say No & Don’t Overload Yourself
Keep a calendar of all potential events and DON’T say yes to everything right away. Take note of all the parties, events, trips, etc. that you and your family get invited to. Prioritize which events are a must for you and commit to them first. But, wait a while before you say yes to anything else. This way you know what you have on the docket before overfilling your schedule.
Even after you’re ready to start sending back RSVPs, don’t feel like you have to say yes to everything. It is a busy season and it can be very easy to overbook yourself. You may have to say no to a few things that you would really like to do in order to keep your sanity, and that’s okay. Keep in mind that for most events it is better to RSVP that you will not be attending then it is to simply not show up. So telling people no really isn’t so bad after all, but actually much appreciated
Plan Ahead, Don’t Procrastinate
– Make A List
And check it twice. While you may think you can head into the mall or the grocery store without a game plan, it will be a lot easier (and faster) if you plan ahead and make a detailed list. In fact, we suggest you make two lists.
The first list is for food you can buy ahead of time, like dried or canned goods, items that won’t go bad quickly. Then make a list of grocery items that need to be purchased closer to the date you will be cooking. This way you can get some of your grocery shopping done ahead of time. That way you’re not trying to get it all done in one massive trip.
And then there is the gift lists. When it comes to lists for gift buying, make two identical lists of the names for people you intend to give gifts to. Make one of those lists for gift ideas and the other a working list of what you have purchased and for who. Keep that list on you when shopping, and fill it out as you buy. This way when it comes to gift wrapping you don’t get lost in the what you bought for who situation. This can also be a great tip to prevent yourself from over purchasing.
If you want a great, compact planner to keep your lists organized, we love the classic Moleskine. It is a great size and allows you to keep your list easily accessible for quick shopping.
– Cook Ahead
Figure out everything and anything you can cook ahead of time. This goes for special dinners, snacks, and even breakfasts too. Even if all you can do in advance is prep work. Pulling out recipes, and assigning which baking sheets and dishes to use for each recipe will save you time and ease up any stress.
And even if it might seem like overkill at first, you may realize you don’t have enough or the right baking dishes. Allowing you to properly plan ahead and not leave you scrambling last minute. Seriously any and every little thing you can do to prepare ahead of time will be time and effort well spent to make your holidays go smoothly.
Also, if you love baking Christmas cookies but don’t want to make dozens of cookies all at once, make them ahead and freeze them. This is one of the few items you can make weeks ahead and simply take out the day of. This is also a great “do it yourself” gift that you can quickly take out of the freezer. We suggest keeping a few cute holiday cookie tins on hand to make those last minute gifts super easy.
– Shop In Advance or Shop Online
When you shop in person, not only is it more chaotic, but it is harder to check your prices as you go. When you’re shopping online it is much easier to hunt for the best price. You can even shop in multiple stores simply by having multiple windows open instead of driving from shop to shop.
While it might seem like the best prices are only available at peak shopping times, there are sales all year round. Don’t wait until the last minute to go shopping, it is much more stressful that way. You can even shop throughout the year if you like, this way you’re slowly collecting personal gifts instead of hunting with the masses.
– Clean Ahead of Time
If your house is in need of a good deep cleaning, make sure you do all of that far in advance.
While you might have to tidy and clean up a few more times before the family comes to visit. It is much easier to keep an already clean house tidy, then it is to deep clean right before the in-laws come to the front door.
So try to get your big cleaning tasks out of the way early. That way you can relax having that big task off of your to do list.
Find Ways to Unwind
Every night doesn’t have to be an over planned or wild night out. Make the effort to take time out for relaxing too. Some of the best holiday memories may come from the simple nights at home just sitting in front of your fireplace listening to Christmas music. Or cuddled up in pj’s watching your favorite holiday movie. Regardless, take some time to chill.
– Enjoy The Season
Set aside a night of “nothing.” Whether it is a funny or holiday movie night with your friends or your kids. Or reading a good back in the glow of a fire. Whatever you choose, set aside some time to sit in your pajamas and relax. Sometimes it’s these moments that end up being even more memorable and turning into traditions. So take time for for the simple, yet amazingly beneficial moments of simplicity.
Also, try to incorporate laughter. Pick a movie that really makes you giggle. Laughter is a natural stress reliever. So when you laugh your level of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine go down.
And if you need some adult time, book a babysitter and have a girls night out. Or go to dinner with your love bug. Whatever it is, just make sure it is the break you need and deserve.
– Treat Yourself
Get in some real relaxation. And if you can, do it completely alone. What?! I know! During the holidays we are often completely surrounded by friends and family. Which is definitely part of what makes the holidays so special and so much fun.
However, it can also be completely overwhelming and stressful. So take out some time for yourself. Go get a massage, a pedicure, or just shut the bathroom door and take a bath. Once you get in some quality “me time” you’ll appreciate your time with friends and family a lot more.
Set A Curfew
Curfews aren’t just for kids. Setting limitations and boundaries is healthy. So before you head out for a night on the town, decide on a time you want to leave. Then set a timer on your phone for 30 minutes before your designated leave time.
This way you have a thirty minute window to gather whoever you came with and say your goodbyes, and get out the door. It may take more or less time depending on the party and how many people you brought with you, but it is a good goal.
Take A Nap
Some days might be more packed than others. If you have cooking, shopping, dinner and a party to go to all in one day, then you may pass out before the day is even through. Instead of going until the point of exhaustion, find times where you can squeeze in a quick nap.
Even though this may seem like you are taking time out of your busy day, it will save your sanity and create a happier, more efficient you. It will also help prevent crashing, or over caffeinating, just to get through your day. By designating some “down” time in a busy day you will be doing yourself a favor in the long and short run.
Nothing ruins your day faster then a hangover. Other than maybe seriously embarrassing photos from the office Christmas party. So if you want to keep your dignity, sanity, and your food down, then don’t go overboard on the eggnog.
Even if you’re not getting drunk, having a drink at every event you go to will add up fast. You could end up drinking more in a week than you normally drink in a whole month. So be mindful of how much you’re drinking and remember that it is okay to go for the non-alcoholic option as well.
Everywhere you turn during the holidays there is a new delicious treat tempting your taste buds. It is okay to indulge a little, but don’t have to go full Elf all season long. Not only could you stuff yourself sick, you could also gain more weight than you thought possible. It is pretty easy to pack on the pounds during the winter season.
After all, who will be able to tell when that belly is hiding under a winter coat? The answer is you. So don’t set yourself up for a New Year’s Resolution to loose that holiday weight. Your body will know what you’re doing to it and poor health doesn’t give you a write off just because it is the holidays. So be careful not to over eat and stick to healthier options when you can.
We know it is tempting and those holiday coffee drinks are oh so delicious, but try to avoid the caffeine. It only helps temporarily and often leads to a crash. Especially when it is mixed with lots of sugar.
If you are struggling with stress and anxiety, caffeine is not your answer. Often times caffeine will increase symptoms of anxiety and increase heart rate and blood pressure. So skip the java and instead drink some water. You probably haven’t had enough and it is important to stay hydrated.
Always important and yet always seems to get pushed to the bottom of the priorities list. When it comes to relieving stress and anxiety, a good workout is a great way to let off some steam.
It will also help you burn off that extra scoop of mashed potatoes, you put on your plate. All while helping you sleep better too. With so many potential benefits, it is definitely worth squeezing in a work out or two into our very busy schedules.
If you want to know more about how exercise affects your sleep, check out Is Exercise Good For Sleep?
Try To Keep A Regular Sleep Schedule
With all of the parties, visiting family, and traveling we often screw up our sleep schedules during the holidays. This can make you and your family particularly grouchy. Try to be mindful of this and whenever possible stick to your sleep schedule. If you need help resetting your sleep schedule, check out our page How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule.
It can be easy to throw off and difficult to get back on track. However, the more your stick to your schedule, the harder it will be to mess it up and easier it will be to get back into. So stay are track and stick to the schedule.
– Pack Light
While you want to bring all the cute outfit options possible, pack as light as you can. If possible, skip checking a bag all together and live out of your carry on. Bags get lost, especially during busy seasons and through flight transfers. If you can manage to get everything into your carry on you will be able to get in, out, and on your way a lot faster.
– Ship Gifts Ahead of Time
If you ship your gifts early they might even arrive before you do. It is now possible to buy a gift online and have it arrive gift wrapped inside of the shipping box. Meaning you don’t even have to wrap or pack the gift yourself. That sure cuts down on the stress of gift shopping and makes traveling that much easier.
– Book Flights Early
If you know your are traveling for the holidays then try to book flights well in advance. Not only do they book quickly, but checking high priority items off your list makes for less stress. It also allows you to budget better too. No one wants to max out credit cards or wait for last minute flights just because of poor or late planning.
– Bring Snacks
Traffic and flight delays happen, and being hungry is a sure fire way to make you grumpy and even potentially loose your temper. So always have emergency snacks on hand.
You never know when you’re going to need them and they are always good to have just in case. Also, packing your own snacks usually means a much healthier option too. By packing some fresh fruit or an energy bar ahead of time, your much less likely to add an overly fatty or sugary treat just out of convenience.
– Get Sleep
Take advantage of every chance you have to get some much needed rest. If you have a moment of peace while traveling, take that time to get some extra rest. It isn’t easy sleeping on planes, at hotels, or in your childhood bed. So take advantage of all the sleep you can get.
If you need some help getting some rest in unfamiliar places, check out our sleep guide 12 Ways To Sleep Better Away From Home.
Don’t Let The Holiday Stress Ruin Your Sleep
We hope this article can serve as a survival guide for the holiday season. It can be truly wonder and magical as long as you don’t let the pressure get to you. Make sure you plan ahead, take care of your health, don’t over indulge, and take care of yourself. The holidays are really about spending time with the people you care most about. So prioritize accordingly and make sure to get some sleep. Wishing you and yours the best sleep of your life and a splendid Holiday Season! – Our Sleep Guide