How to Simplify the Holidays & Reduce Stress: It Can Be Done!

Simplify the holidays
How to Simplify the Holidays & Reduce Stress: It Can Be Done!

There’s no denying that the holidays can be hectic. 

From gift wrapping to family gatherings, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, but don’t worry… 

This article explores how to simplify the holidays, reduce stress, and spend time doing what matters most. 

Simplify the Holidays and Stress

Holidays are a time for celebration, traditions, and bringing people together.

However, changes in your usual routine, extra costs, and living up to high expectations can leave you feeling stressed. 

Research shows that stress is more common during the holidays. Even worse, the number of deaths caused by heart disease increases. (1)

Signs of stress include:

  • Anxiety

  • Body aches

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability 

  • Sadness

Chronic stress can weaken your immune system and lead to a number of health risks, like diabetes and cancer. (2)

Therefore, it’s important to reduce your stress levels in order to stay happy and healthy. 

One great way to reduce stress is by walking in nature. (3)

The fresh air will do you good, and it can also reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones.

It also gives your skin the opportunity to absorb vitamin D: one of the most important vitamins for mental health.

Here are some other things that you can do to reduce stress: 

  • Breathing exercises

  • Physical exercise

  • Listen to music

  • Massage

  • Meditation

  • Yoga

Let’s take a closer look at how to simplify the holidays and reduce stress…

10 Ways to Simplify the Holidays

Here are ten ways to simplify the holidays and cut down on stress: 

  1. Prioritize what’s important 

  2. Manage expectations

  3. Cut back on decorations

  4. Simplify cooking

  5. Cut back on food and drink

  6. Slow down

  7. Take time for yourself

  8. Limit spending

  9. Give the gift of experiences

  10.  Learn to say “no”

1. Prioritize What’s Important

There are so many Christmas traditions to keep up with, and it can be easy to lose sight of what you actually enjoy. 

That’s why it’s important to focus on the things that are most meaningful to you, like:

  • Spending time with loved ones

  • Decorating the Christmas tree

  • Listening to Christmas songs

  • Playing family games 

  • Giving gifts

  • Watching Christmas films

If a tradition has lost its meaning, choose something new to try instead. 

Sit down with your loved ones and create a list of all the things that you enjoy. 

This helps you be more intentional about what you do with your time.

2. Manage Expectations

If you strive for perfection during the holidays, it can leave you feeling stressed, exhausted, and disappointed.

In fact, research shows that being too much of a perfectionist can lead to anxiety and depression. (4)

Therefore, it’s important to remember that the holidays don’t have to be perfect.   

If your Christmas tree isn’t the best one on the block, it’s not the end of the World. 

Instead, focus on being loving and accepting.

If your children have a wishlist that’s outside your budget, talk to them about realistic expectations. 

Remind them that the holidays aren’t about expensive gifts, they’re about memories and relationships. 

3. Cut Back on Decorations 

It’s easy to get carried away with putting up Christmas decorations, but here’s a little secret: you don’t need to put them all out!

In fact, too many decorations can make your home feel cluttered and cause more stress. 

Start by deciding which holiday decorations are meaningful to you. This allows you to decorate intentionally and simply.  

Focus on creating a festive atmosphere by: 

  • Lighting candles

  • Playing holiday music

  • Using natural decor like pine cones 

This not only helps limit the clutter, but it also reduces the amount of time you spend putting up decorations. 

4. Simplify Cooking

Cooking can be stressful during the holidays and you may end up feeling overwhelmed. 

A great way to simplify cooking is to create a menu in advance so that you know exactly what you’re cooking and when.

Even better, you can ask people to bring dishes with them so that you don’t have to cook everything on your own.

This allows you to spend more time with loved ones and less time in the kitchen.

Some other tips for simplifying cooking are: 

  • Buy pre-made items 

  • Have fewer side dishes

  • Make recipes you know how to make

  • Prepare in advance  

  • Use leftovers

5. Cut Back On Food & Drink  

Christmas cake, pies, mulled wine and champagne…the list of festive treats are endless. 

However, you don’t need to buy it all. 

If you’re hosting a party, buy a few staple items that you know everyone will enjoy and call it good. 

The fewer options there are, the less likely you’ll be to indulge.

Overindulging can cause you to gain weight, which can lead to obesity and increase the risk of conditions like (5)

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

Instead, opt for sugar-free varieties and whole foods like low-carb fruits and veggies. 

High-protein snacks are also a great option to keep hunger pangs at bay. 

Fortunately, studies show that if you exercise enough during the holidays you can prevent weight gain. (6)

Then there’s the alcohol…

People often drink twice as much alcohol during the holidays.

Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Research shows that binge drinking can damage the brain, liver, gastrointestinal tract, and heart. (7)

To help control your alcohol intake you can:

  • Count your drinks

  • Eat beforehand 

  • Set a realistic goal

  • Space your drinks

  • Measure your drinks

  • Pace yourself 

6. Slow Down

Stop trying to please everyone and slow down!

It’s important to take the pressure off having to go everywhere and do everything. 

Instead, set aside time where you all unplug from technology and spend quality time together. 

Some great things you can do include: 

  • Cooking together

  • Learning something new together

  • Playing a game 

  • Reading together

  • Making something together

  • Going for a walk

7. Take Time for Yourself

Taking time for yourself can be a challenge, especially during the holidays when there are events, family gatherings, and social commitments. 

But it’s important to check in with yourself.

Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to recharge, including: 

  • Eat good food

  • Exercise

  • Get a massage

  • Practice yoga

  • Soak in the bath

  • Spend some time in silence

  • Get enough sleep

It’s common to feel guilty for taking time for yourself, but people will enjoy being around you more when you’re well-rested. 

Plus, you’ll enjoy the holiday season that much more too. 

8. Limit Spending 

Christmas is the biggest gift-giving holiday of the year and the time when people spend the most. 

Research shows that financial strain can cause low self-control and lead to unhealthy habits like smoking and heavy drinking. (8)

Therefore, it’s important to be intentional about how you spend your money. 

Start by setting a realistic budget and prioritize who you’re going to buy gifts for.

Another great trick is to only withdraw the exact amount of cash you need and leave credit cards at home. 

You can also get creative and limit spending by:

  • Buying from second-hand stores

  • Cutting down on gifts

  • Making your own gifts

  • Doing a gift swap 

9. Give the Gift of Experiences

Consumerism skyrockets during the holidays.

But unfortunately, not all gifts are well-received and many end up in the landfill.

A great way to cut down on physical gifts is to give the gift of experiences. 

You’ll end up with less junk and deeper relationships. 

Research shows that spending time together can have a positive impact on mental and physical health. (9)

Talk to your family about giving the gift of experiences this year. Some great options include:  

  • Bowling

  • Gift card for a favorite restaurant

  • Indoor rock climbing

  • Movie tickets

  • Museum visit

  • Spa day

  • Trip to a local zoo

  • Watch a show at the theater 

  • Weekend away

10. Learn to Say “No”

Although it can be challenging to say “no”, it helps you establish healthy boundaries.

It also helps others understand what they can expect from you.

When you say “no” to obligations that don’t feel good, it allows you to focus on the things you really want to say “yes” to. 

For example, if you’ve been invited to your neighbors for Christmas Eve, but would rather stay at home with your family, it’s okay to say “no.” 

If you have any more questions about how to simplify the holidays and reduce stress, feel free to contact us at Complete Care Health Centers. 

We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.

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