Did you know there are radio stations that play Christmas music year round? Crazy, but true. Although your radio station probably isn’t blasting holiday tunes all year long, come Mid-November you are most likely scoping out what stations play holiday music in your area.

But did you know for some listening to Christmas music too early is linked to feelings of stress and anxiety? Research suggests this is true.

The question is, are we really that surprised? Our culture has put incredible pressure on us to host the best parties, cook the best meals, and buy the best gifts. In a word, the holiday season has become about spending money and pleasing people. Newsflash: this time of year has nothing to do with any of those things. Rather than striving to please others, remember that this time of year is a season to enjoy.

Although making it through the holidays stress-free is seemingly impossible, there are ways to lessen your stress and enjoy this special time of year! If your to-do list already has you pulling your hair out, don’t fear! Here are six ways to stay sane through the end of the year:

1. Take a deep breath

When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed with all there is to do, stop and take a deep breath. Research shows deep breathing combats the harmful effects of stress by promoting a relaxation response in the body. That’s because when our exhales are longer than out inhales our heart rate slows and blood flow increases. When the demands of the holiday season catch up with you, remember to bring it back to your breath.

2. Get your sleep

Did you know your sleep is most likely to suffer during the holidays? How inconvenient, considering this is the time you need it most.

Stress is a common thief of our precious hours of shut eye. Considering the emotional, physical, and financial demands that come with the end of the year, it’s no surprise troubled sleep plagues us during this season.

While there are short-term consequences of lost sleep such as, forgetfulness (aka burning the Christmas cookies), difficulty focusing, irritability, and grogginess, there are more serious long-term effects of sleep deprivation. Some of which include an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. All this to say, it’s important to protect your sleep.

Sleep is so important you might even consider gifting it for Christmas. Your mom already has a thousand candles but I bet she’d die for better shut-eye. Whether that means gifting her a relaxing night to herself or actually purchasing her a new mattress (because let’s face it, hers is probably 20 years old), we often underestimate just how valuable a good night of sleep can be for our physical, mental and emotional health. My advice to you—don’t only prioritize sleep this season, consider gifting it to others.

P.S. Did you know mattresses now come compressed and rolled in a box? AMAZING. Who would have thought you could actually wrap a mattress?!

3. Find a moment of stillness each day

One key to making it to the end of the year stress-free is limiting your planning hours and time for running errands. Juggling a full-time job and navigating the busy schedule of family time already constitutes having a full plate, so consider setting small weekly errand goals for yourself to prevent running yourself ragged.

After all, proper rest doesn’t just happen at night. By taking a moment to relax and breathe throughout the day you will keep your body in balance. Don’t let the anxiety of your long to-do list build up to the point you are losing your temper, sleep, and possibly an invite to the next holiday Christmas party.

4. Put it to paper

No matter how well you plan, there are times you still can’t shake the racing thoughts that keep you up at night. Does anyone else remember another 1,478 things to do as soon as their head hits the pillow? Yeah, join the club.

If that sounds like you, grab a notebook and pen and write those thoughts down. The only way to keep them from haunting you is to get them out of your mind.

5. Talk it out

When writing isn’t enough, call in your confidant. Sometimes it takes more than just getting thoughts out of your head. You may also need to verbally process them with someone.

Stress has a way of making us easily irritable. To prevent stress from getting the best of you, get your frustrations and anxieties off your chest early on.

6. Remember what the season is all about

Last but not least, you’ll need a positive mindset to get you through the holidays without being miserable. Regardless of whether you are religious, remember what this season is for—celebrating family, friends, and all of life’s blessings! Don’t let it pass by in a frenzied blur, but remember to stop and appreciate the reason why you are doing the activities you are doing—hosting meals to commune with the ones you love, giving gifts to family to express your love in a tangible way, and reflecting on just how blessed we are.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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