Welcome back! In my last post I promised more discussion about reducing stress during the holidays. I think people are getting pretty busy right now and I’m feeling a bit under the weather, so I’m going to keep this brief. Here are four additional ways to achieve balance and reduce stress during the holidays:

1. Focus on Relationships

Sometimes we get so focused on our to-do lists that we neglect what is most important in life—our relationships. When we focus on what really matters, other things can go by the wayside and it doesn’t really matter. Ultimately, we do everything we do during the holidays to make happy memories with those we love, so don’t let the minor stuff block out your focus on the whole purpose of it all.

2. Get Adequate Sleep

The holidays often throw off our schedule, perhaps we have a plane to catch or stay up late wrapping up gifts. Not getting enough sleep can add significant stress and fatigue, so try to get 7-8 hours even if it means simplifying your life and dropping other activities that don’t matter as much. Even though sleeping more means less time to get things done, we’ll be miraculously more efficient and effective when we’ve had a good night’s sleep.

3. Be Careful of What You Eat

Between all the holiday parties, festive meals, and the delicious gifts from neighbors and friends, our bodies become overloaded with sugar and we lack the nutrients that we need to have enough energy to handle all the increased stress of the season. Do your best to reduce the empty calories you consume and eat well-balanced meals this season. We sometimes forget about just how terribly we are eating during the holidays and don’t realize toll that takes on our body and overall ability to deal with stress.

4. Serve Others

In the hustle and bustle of the season, sometimes we forget to really reach out to others. In other words, we lose sight of the main purpose of this season. Stress is largely the result of focusing on oneself and when you can get out of yourself and do something kind for someone else, the things that stressing you out tend to lose salience. I have found no better way to diminish my own stress and challenges than helping others to deal with theirs.  

I wish you a very happy holiday season and hope that you can achieve balance and happy memories with loved ones this season.

About the Author

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D.

Nathaniel Lambert, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of Utah.

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