The merriest time of year can also be the most stressful. As much as we look forward to spending time with family from near and far, the relationships we share with family members can sometimes be challenging, and holiday stress is real. Top that with the million and one things to cross off your to-do list, and you’re in for a meltdown. So, how can you be an excellent host or guest, enjoy some quality family time, all while taking care of yourself?
Do the holidays totally stress you out? Check out our Guide to Relieving Stress During the Holidays
Every family is different, but we’ve come up with five pointers to help you stay sane during family visits this holiday season. Reconnect in the way that makes sense for you and yours. Gather up the troops and head to the local movie theater or ice skating rink. Spend the night playing board games, sit down for dinner, or just cozy up and talk. With an open mind and an easy-going attitude, there’s hope after all!
5.) Maintain a Healthy Sleep Schedule
With so much to do, it’s a wonder that anybody ever gets any sleep between Thanksgiving and the New Year. How do you avoid turning into the Grinch when you’re doing it all?
Not convinced that sleep helps with sanity? Check out our Top 5 Reasons Why More Sleep Means Less Stress During the Holiday Season
It’s really important to maintain a healthy sleep schedule during the holidays because sleep deprivation can cause behavior changes and overall Grinch-like behaviors. Sure, it’s fine to stay up late here and there, but try to keep it within an hour or two from your normal sleep cycle. And it’s extra important if you’re traveling across time zones. In these cases, it’s much harder to keep your regular schedule. However, if you’re only planning on staying a day or two, try and keep as close to your regular “back home” schedule as possible.
4.) Plan a Potluck Party
A holiday potluck can feel so much more festive and cozy than an elaborate dinner party. It’s also much easier to plan.
Ask each member of the family to bring a special dish to the table. It can be helpful to pick a potluck theme (but don’t make it too narrow) and allow guests to pick their own dishes. Then all you have to do is decorate and have fun! The relaxed atmosphere helps ease tension caused by travel, and a potluck is sure to create a warm and welcoming vibe. There’s a ton of tips and tricks to pulling off a laid-back yet beautiful event, where everyone contributes to the special day.
3.) Make Sure to Have Some Alone Time
Constant social visits can stress out just about anyone. Introvert? Stressed out. Extrovert? Stressed out. We all need to recharge and there’s no better time to do so than during the holidays.
For more meditation tips, check out our Top 5 Reasons Why Meditation Can Help Relieve Stress This Holiday Season
After carving out an hour to yourself, now what? Go on a walk and listen to a guided meditation. Download a mediation app, like Headspace, that works best for you. Or just check out the Christmas lights and decorations. Make time to hit the gym and boost your endorphins. Run a hot bath, listen to some music, or take a nap. Whatever works for you, do it. Taking care of yourself will minimize meltdowns and enable you to be your best self around family.
2.) Avoid Provocative Topics
It feels unavoidable. You fear someone will start a political conversation at the dinner table and everything will be ruined. Every family is made up of people with very different opinions, and spending time together might bring up some controversial conversations. Keeping the conversation light, avoiding too much alcohol and chatting about school, recipes and pop culture can help make the day, or week, less hectic.
1.) Avoid Overspending with Alternative Gift Exchanges
The No. 1 cause of stress during the holidays is overspending. According to the National Retail Federation, the average person spent about $805 during the holidays in 2015.
Want some more inexpensive gift ideas? Check out our Top 5 DIY Holiday Gift Ideas That Will Save You a Fortune and Still Impress Your Friends & Family
Instead of buying for everyone, try playing holiday-themed gift games like Secret Santa or White Elephant Gift Exchange. If you plan on playing Secret Santa, have everyone toss their name in a hat and draw to see who you’ll be buying for. Set a price limit on gifts and get creative. Or play White Elephant, where everyone brings a gift and people either select gifts from the bunch or steal from other family members. Make sure you have the rules written down beforehand, as things tend to get wild. Make gift exchanges fun again and save a lot of extra dough!
What are your favorite ways to stay sane during holiday family visits? Let us know in the comments below!