You’ve made it! We’re well into the school year, and now sports, fundraisers, and holiday preparations are in full swing. If you’ve got older kiddos, school projects, essays, and homework may start ramping up a bit too. So, as we head into the festive holiday season, I hope you take some time to keep parent burnout at bay and invest in much needed self-care. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate, but remember, you can’t hold it all up by yourself, especially if you’re exhausted. Delegate to others, say no when necessary, and get the R&R you need. Our kiddos may not notice or understand our constant balancing act, but they will take notice of a present, patient, and happy parent. And you’ll feel so much better too. So, whether you’re hosting Thanksgiving this year or planning class parties for your littles, here are a few ways to prevent holiday stress and fight burnout so you can truly enjoy the holiday season.
6 Ways to Fend Off Holiday Stress & Enjoy the Season
1. Keep It Simple
Contrary to what Instagram and Pinterest make us believe, there’s no need to go over the top in all of your holiday preparations, decorations, and involvement. Truthfully, you may find more contentment and joy in the smaller, simpler things. Instead, plan easy, uncomplicated crafts or holiday-themed baked goods with your kids. Complex activities may just lead to more unnecessary frustration for both of you. If it tastes yummy, your kids won’t be disappointed!
The same is true for you, too, Mama. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, stick to the classics and family favorites—even if it comes from a box! Ask yourself why you’re scouring the internet for expert-level recipes. If you enjoy the challenge and can’t wait to try something new, go for it! But if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the pressure to impress others, rest assured, they’ll probably appreciate your easy-yet-delicious mac-n-cheese dish just as much! Crockpot dump, cook, and serve recipes? Let’s go! (Then you can spend that extra time soaking up baby snuggles instead.)
2. Be Mindful of Your “Yeses.”
You don’t have to say “yes” right away! Let friends, family, or teachers know you’ll get back to them soon. Check your schedule to see if you truly have room for it—without excessively rearranging or overbooking yourself. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work, and that’s ok!
And if you do have room in your schedule, don’t forget to consider whether or not you will actually enjoy doing it. There are plenty of things to do during the holiday season. Don’t fill up your time with tasks you dread. For instance, if baking isn’t your thing, either offer to bring a store-bought item or a bakery treat, or sign up for something else instead. Don’t force yourself to be Rachel Ray if that just isn’t you.
3. Keep Homemade Tasks to a Minimum
Maybe you are known for your tasty treats or crafty creations. Friends might ask you to do more because they appreciate your skill, not realizing how much you have on your plate. Keep your commitments realistic. Just because you’re amazing at what you do doesn’t mean you have to take everything on and slave away all holiday season long.
4. Block Out Rest/Catchup Days
Keep some blank space on your calendar. Ideally, the holiday season should be a time to slow down a bit, but instead, it seems to speed up more and more each year. Place big visible “X”s on several calendar days, or even block out an entire week or two if you can around Thanksgiving and Christmas to enjoy time with the family. No erasing! If there’s an “X,” that day is a rest day.
5. Prevent Holiday Stress by Going Outside
Nature has a way of calming nerves, relieving stress, and refreshing the mind. Head outside to get some vitamin D and fresh air. Take a trip to Stewart Beach in Galveston, hike the trails at Huntsville State Park, kayak or paddleboat around Lake Woodlands, or just sit on a park bench while the kids play (without your phone!). Take time to simply ‘be.’
Check out this fascinating article, “Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health,” by Yale E360. In it, the author explores how “studies have shown that time in nature […] is an antidote for stress: It can lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, reduce nervous system arousal, enhance immune system function, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Attention Deficit Disorder and aggression lessen in natural environments, which also help speed the rate of healing. In a recent study, psychiatric unit researchers found that being in nature reduced feelings of isolation, promoted calm, and lifted mood among patients.” Take advantage of Texas’ short fall season!
6. Don’t Neglect Your Health
The holidays are a time to indulge in extra rest and delectable desserts—and I’m all about it! But if you’re feeling down, stressed, and sluggish, it may be time to check in with your body’s needs. Are you getting enough water? Can you work in an endorphin-boosting workout? (Make sure to get that heart rate up for extra energy and mood-enhancing benefits.) How many servings of veggies have you had this week? Are you getting enough protein?
This isn’t another checklist or way to make you feel guilty about your health. But balancing out some of those indulgences with healthy choices will help you feel your best and make sure your body is well-fueled throughout the season. Maintaining your usual workout routine (without shaming yourself for missing a few here and there) will go a long way in beating burnout and preventing holiday stress.
How Will You Prevent Holiday Stress & Enjoy the Holiday Season?
I hope that you’ll take some time to slow things down and truly cherish this holiday season, whatever that looks like for you! May it be the best one yet. Cheers, friends!
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Although the holidays are right around the corner and we have beautifully roasted turkeys and Christmas plans on our minds, don’t forget to schedule your family photos! Spring sessions are already booking up, so get in touch today to reserve your spot in 2022. (And stay tuned for spring mini sessions!) You can preview recent sessions here for ideas and inspiration.