It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m visiting my fiancé on tour. Our sublet is 43 floors above the hustle and bustle of the city center where shoppers, traffic and mayhem mix and mingle. It’s that wretched day called “Black Friday” and we’ve chosen to not participate. High above the madness—with soothing music and candles aglow—I’ll share my tips for avoiding holiday stress.
1. Ignore retail sales
It’s great to save, sure. It’s even better to plan ahead and set aside holiday goodies as you go along. Don’t let stores tell you when to shop. Look at your budget, schedule, and consider stashing gifts for the holidays a few months ahead of time.
2. Reach out
It’s absolutely normal to feel lonesome or depressed around the holidays. Don’t be afraid to admit it, and seek support. I get the blues a bit each Christmas but I’ve learned that yoga and meditation chase them away. Volunteer at an animal shelter, join a book club, tell a friend that you need some company, and you’ll be alright.
3. Be realistic
Stop letting social media and films dictate what your holidays are supposed to look like. Families grow and change, friendships come and go, and it’s okay to roll with it. Set yourself up for success by planning to spend time with the people who truly make you feel comfortable, loved and supported. Eliminate travel stress by using Skype and videos if you’re unable to trek all over the globe or just don’t feel up to it.
4. Give yourself plenty of “you” time
Take more time for yourself to do the simple things, like reading, soaking in a nice bath, and taking long walks. Fresh air and clearing your head put you in a healthy place so that you’re better able to cope with the stresses of relatives, cooking, shopping, and whatever else the holidays bring up.
5. Plan ahead
Don’t wait until the last minute to shop for ingredients if you’re cooking for a gathering. Make lists weeks in advance, and be certain that you’ve got everything you need on hand. I worked at Martha Stewart’s corporate HQ many years ago and learned from the best—plan ahead, even down to the platters on which you’ll serve your meal.
6. Create new traditions
I’ve learned over the years that it’s fun to add new traditions as time passes. For example, I like to walk along the ocean alone on my birthday. That started one year after a bad breakup, but I turned it into something special that I do for myself. Think outside the box, spend less time in traffic, and add activities that bring you joy this year.
7. It’s okay to say “no”
It’s not necessary to accept every invitation and attend ever gathering every year. That sounds exhausting, actually. Self-preservation and conserving our energy are important throughout the year, but particularly good to be aware of around the holidays. Focus on quality, not quantity, and don’t spread yourself too thin.
8. Don’t neglect your health
It’s okay to let your hair down and indulge a bit during the holidays—just don’t turn it into a free fall of gluttony. Maintain your existing yoga or exercise routines during the holidays, and try to keep your eating habits stable. Enjoy that pie or extra helping of your favorite dish, but just be sure to balance it all out with what your body is used to during the rest of the year.