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10 Helpful Ways To Reduce Holiday Stress

I’m Italian American, which means that Thanksgiving and Christmas are … well, they’re our Olympics. It’s game time, babe — time for food, friends, family, and fun. But much as we love hosting, eating, and gathering together during the holiday season, it’s no secret that these special times also come with stress and anxiety. To combat the hustle and bustle of the season this year, I’ve decided to take back the holidays and my peace of mind. How do I begin to do this, you ask? Dive into these 10 simple but helpful ways to reduce holiday stress:

1. Prioritize sleep

Sleep is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress, especially for Santa Claus himself.

Getting enough sleep is non-negotiable for me, especially during the holidays. While I always try to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, it is critical for me to catch as many zzz’s before any major holiday functions. Why? Because if I don’t, my mother will tell me, “Oh Holly, you look so tired.” That aside though, I have found that sleep is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress because it sets me up to be the best I can be each day.

Everyone needs sleep, and we all need plenty of it. To get a better night of rest, especially during the hustle and bustle of the season, I have two go-to’s. First, I highly recommend taking CBD like Pachamama. Second, for a great night of sleep that won’t leave you groggy, I am also a big fan of this Brother’s Apothecary product.

To really help your body signal to your brain that bedtime is near, I also recommend using doTERRA Serenity. I love to slather my feet with this restful blend. Thanks to its calming aroma, the smell alone can help you create a restful oasis in your own bed.

2. Practice gratitude

Practicing gratitude is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress.

Gratitude is the best attitude, or so they say. This is why I try to start and end each day by naming three to five things that I’m grateful for. While I practice gratitude year-round, I do find that holding space for gratitude is one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress.

Whether you use a gratitude app, write in a gratitude journal, or meditate with a compassionate full heart focused on what you’re most thankful for, carving out time to reflect is key. You don’t have to focus on significant endeavors when practicing gratitude, you simply can name and feel the small things that touch your heart or make your life better. Practicing gratitude, especially during the holiday season, is a great way to stay grounded in the moment — not to mention, it can help increase positive feelings and help you practice kindness to yourself and others (something we can all benefit from).

3. Treat Yo Self

Baths are one of the easiest ways to reduce stress during the holidays.

‘Tis the season to take care of yourself because if you don’t, who will? Yes, the season of giving is upon us, but remember — it is just as important to give to yourself this time of year as it is to others.

One of the easiest ways to reduce holiday stress in your life is to partake in some self-care. Maybe that’s a manicure and pedicure or buying that pretty new sweater that caught your eye. Or maybe it’s going ice skating alone and spending the evening soaking under the bubbles in the bathtub. Since you know you best for yourself — define what self-care looks like for you,

For me, taking long, warm baths is one of my favorite ways to combat holiday stress. I love lighting candles, dropping a bath bomb into my tub, and soaking all my worries away. I’m a huge fan of Mermaid Flannel bath bombs and these refreshing and relaxing bath salts.

4. Get off your phone

Hanging out with friends and family is one of the best ways to reduce stress during the holidays.

You’re reading this on your phone right now, aren’t you? I thank you for reading, but hear me out: one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress is simply by putting your phone down. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of comparing yourself to other people during this time of year, but keep this one thing in mind — the holidays are not about competition. Instead of comparing yourself to others or trying to make sure every single holiday moment is captured on your iPhone, prioritize living in the moment and being present.

Living presently during the holidays can look like you serving up a fabulous Thanksgiving spread without capturing every detail on your Instagram story. Living presently with friends and family can look like cookie decorating or watching a holiday classic together — doing these types of things lead to better, more quality time spent together. Additionally, living presently is a surefire way to help you know and recognize what your body and mind need, even when you’re knee-deep in wrapping paper and ribbon.

While the temptation to scroll through the Internet is always going to be there, holidays or not, just know that practice makes perfect. The more you can practice leaving your phone out of the mix, the better off you will be experiencing the holiday season as presently as possible.

5. Hug it out

Hugs are one of the most helpful ways to reduce stress.

Hugs are one of the most helpful ways to reduce holiday stress. In fact, hugs are one of the most helpful ways to reduce stress of any kind. According to Virginia Satir, a world-renowned family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. And we need 12 hugs a day for growth.” Whether you’re getting 12 hugs a day or just one, consider upping your daily hug count during the holiday season.

Great at instantly boosting oxytocin levels, hugs can also help heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, fear, and anger. When you’re in the thick of holiday meal prep or you’re headed on a road trip upstate to see your extended family, leave time for hugs of all kinds. Big hugs. Side hugs. “Oh how I missed you” hugs. Sweet hugs. “You’re not alone, I’m with you” hugs. And of course, bear hugs.

Local to Sewickley and in need of a hug? Stop by Moodporium, I’m ready to hug it out.

6. Set the mood

Candles can help set the mood. Setting the mood is helpful when you're trying to find ways to reduce holiday stress.

During the end of the year, to reduce holiday stress, I recommend setting the mood at home. This could be stringing lights up on your Christmas tree or it could mean turning your fireplace on before nestling into your couch for a long nap. Setting the mood could also be lighting balsam-scented candles around the house or turning up your favorite holly jolly holiday playlist to the highest volume. To successfully set the mood for your home, do what feels best to you.

My favorite ways to set the mood at home are through aromatherapy and music. First, to get into a quick state of relaxation after a family dinner that may have pushed you over the edge, I recommend calming aromatherapy scents like Serenity or Peace. Simply drop the scent of your choice into a diffuser and soon enough, your room will radiate balmy tranquility. And finally, while you let the aromatherapy carry you away from where your mind currently is, I recommend listening to some music. The type of music doesn’t matter — you’re in control, so listen to what you want to listen to.

Although there are no official mood-setting rules or guidelines, it’s important to remember why you’re setting the mood to begin with. If relaxation is what you’re after, you’re going to want to keep it top of mind.

7. Learn to say no and say it often

Saying no is one of the most powerful ways to reduce holiday stress and free up your schedule.

Schedules get hectic during the holidays — for you and for everyone else. To help you guard your time more wisely, I recommend becoming acquainted with the uncomfortable word “no.” While saying “no” is one of the most powerful ways to reduce holiday stress, it is often one of the hardest things for people to do, period.

Before you bristle too much at the thought of saying “no,” let me ask you this question: Do you want the holiday season to kick your ass? If you said “yes,” I say, “best of luck.” If you answered “no,” I say, “Then you’re going to have to get comfortable saying no.” But why Holly? Saying “no” is your ticket to achieving balance (instead of burnout) this holiday season.

“No” gives you permission to craft a holiday season of your choosing. Instead of committing to everything, double booking, or doing backflips to try and make it all work, saying “no” can help keep your load light. With a lighter load, you don’t have to neglect your needs too much during the holiday season. Saying “no” is the perfect antidote for those looking to still have fun during this magical time of year while still finding time to recharge and relax.

8. Move your body

Moving your body every day is a surefire way to reduce holiday stress.

I don’t know about you, but when the temperature drops outside, so does my motivation. Despite exercise being one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress, staying active during the most wonderful time of the year can be really hard to do. Whether you exercise indoors or you bundle up and head outside, it doesn’t matter — just leave time in your schedule to move your body.

Moving my body always means that no matter how I’m feeling, afterward, I’ll always feel better. It doesn’t matter if I walk 10,000 steps or I attend a full-blown workout class at RampRize, movement is movement. The more I move my body, the more energized and spirited I feel, too.

To ensure you move your body each day, schedule a time that works best with your schedule and energy level. I recommend exercising in the morning because I love the way it sets up my day, but if you prefer another time of day — you do you. Just make sure you have time to move, sweat, and decompress from the holiday hustle and bustle.

9. Lead with an abundance of love

Leading with your heart is a recommended way to reduce holiday stress.

The holidays are a great time of year to lead with your heart. To me, the easiest way to lead with your heart is by spreading love, light, and positivity. Need help getting into the right headspace for this? Start by erasing negative self-talk, and then hold off on passing judgment. Making that subtle shift in your mind can help clear out some unwanted negativity you may be carrying around.

Leading with your heart is one of the most fruitful ways to reduce stress during the holidays. It will set the tone for positive and good vibes as you enter into the busiest months of the year. Want to practice leading with your heart before hosting 25 of your family members for Thanksgiving? Try the following:

  1. Actively listen
  2. Develop connections
  3. Be honest
  4. Show empathy
  5. Be vulnerable

    If leading with your heart is too hard (Mr. Grinch, I’m talking to you) but you still want to spread love, I recommend finding a mantra or prayer that you can recite to yourself when your mind is in need of something uplifting.

10. Oil up

CBD is an excellent tool to keep in your toolbox - it's a relaxing way to reduce holiday stress.

When you’re trying to fight off the stress of the holidays, one of the best ways to reduce holiday stress, naturally, is to leverage CBD and essential oils. Did you hear me? It’s time to oil up!

In the morning, I recommend starting your day with a citrus-smelling essential oil. Either drop your favorite scent into a diffuser or spritz yourself with it like it’s perfume. The warm, fortifying scent will help gently ease you into the day while simultaneously uplifting your mood. Citrus-based essential oils are perfect to use during colder months of the year.

After relishing in your morning aromatherapy, set the rest of your day up for success. Start by taking CBDistillery 30mg capsules or CBDistillery 33mg tincture. Both of these CBD options calm down both my brain and my anxiety. Yes…even when the countdown to the end of the year is on.

Holiday stress belongs on Santa’s Naughty List

While I wish I could wave a magic wand to take away all holiday stress, I can’t. But I can remind you that you’re not alone. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, 38 percent of people say their stress increases during the holiday season. So, cut yourself a break (just like you would if you were talking to a friend), and remember, the holidays only come around once each year.