How to Manage the Holiday Stress

Sean Wu // The Watchdog

As much fun and excitement as the holiday season brings, it is also accompanied by a great deal of stress. Thursday, Nov. 3, marked the beginning of a series of wellness events for Bellevue College employees and staff. The first event, “Staying Sane for the Holidays,” had professional organizer Denise Allan from Simplify Experts explain ways to prevent stress during the holiday season. Allan shared ways to stay organized and calm through the storm. A couple phrases that she mentioned many times were to be proactive versus reactive and to stay in good humor. 

When it comes to relationships with others during the holiday season, whether with gifts or staying in contact, it can feel hectic. When creating a list of friends and family to get gifts, you may start wondering how you know so many people. Especially when considering finances and time, having so many people on your list may not be the best and you should try to shorten it to 20 people. It can be uncomfortable to stop the gift exchanging process, but you should discuss with others if it is adding to your stress level. Plus, you can always suggest going out for dinner in the New Year. When buying for your family, check in with their list. Gifts don’t have to be expensive. Something such as a meaningful activity or a mundane task that they don’t want to do can make for a heartfelt present. Lastly, with cards, you don’t need to have it out the day after thanksgiving. Family photos can be hard, so you can get individual photos, email cards or no cards. Overall, do what feels right and doable for you. 

Allan had many tips for activities during the holiday season. In general, before doing a non-energetic task, do something active, even if it is just putting the dishes away. When coming up with activities you want to do, plan your outings in advance so you can be your authentic self. Additionally, you should listen to what your body is telling you, which could mean stepping out of the conversation or room, or arranging time for yourself. COVID restrictions have loosened and less people are wearing masks, but that doesn’t mean you should sacrifice your comfort and safety to fit the new norm. Feel confident wearing a mask or doing whatever suits your comfort level. 

When it comes to getting in the holiday spirit with decor and food, there are things to be mindful of. When decorating, if you notice some pieces that you never use, donate them prior to the holiday. It’s taking up space for you, but could be a blessing to someone else. Organization is crucial and putting your decor into labeled tubs is a great way to keep track of everything. If you did something new that you really like, take a photo of it so next year you can save time when trying to recreate the same look. With food, you can support yourself so you’re feeling good and healthy. Try to pause more to slow indulgences. 

Finances can be the biggest stress of all during the holidays, especially in the current state of the economy. With that in mind, take stock of your finances. From there you can create a holiday budget. Especially when gift giving, you can create a tracking chart to see how much you estimate each gift will cost and then how much you spent so you can adjust. This will help you to resist the urge to overspend. Additionally, when you shop alone, you save money. There are also many thoughtful gifts that don’t have to cost anything, such as cast iron pan recipes for someone who loves to cook in cast iron pans. 

Last but certainly not least, leave time for self-care. Leave time for you to calm yourself. When starting the holiday season, there is a vision of how it will go. Instead of shooting for every detail to be perfect, strive for 80 percent. Talk with your family to make sure of what the rules are to help with maintenance. Be aware of the maximum amount of time you can give to avoid fatigue. Creating a task list can also help you to accomplish this vision. Overall, accomplish what is reasonable.

To learn more about the future wellness events which are monthly events that will continue in the winter quarter, reach out to Michelle Mcrae. You can also learn more about free, weekly fitness classes for BC staff.