By: Lexi Althouse, Retreat Director at Massage Heights Fishers District
It’s the most wonderful time of the year…for most!
After 2020 took away our traditional holiday celebrations, there is more pressure than ever to knock this year out of the park, causing Americans more stress than years before. In fact, according to a 2021 study from Clarity Clinic, 45% of people in the U.S. would rather skip the holidays altogether than deal with the stress.
For some, when the holidays roll around, so does unwanted stress and seasonal depression. As it gets colder and darker outside, the number of things on your ‘To-Do’ List begins piling up and motivation is at an all-time low. But the good news is, there are ways for you to let go of the stress and enjoy this season’s festivities!
Here are my top Dos and Don’ts when prioritizing your mental and physical health this holiday season:
DON’T be afraid to say no.
Parties, family gatherings, gift exchanges, decorating – there is no shortage of social obligations this season. And guess what? It is okay to not participate in all of them! Saying “no” is a healthy form of self-care, especially when it can prevent you from getting involved in negative experiences. Whether it is saying “no” to an annual holiday party or a gift exchange that causes you unnecessary financial stress, you are allowed to decline any invitation this time of year. I recommend surrounding yourself with the people and traditions that bring easy joy to your spirit.
DO accept Imperfections.
There seems to be this idea that the holidays need to be magical and perfect in order to be successful – I personally blame Hallmark for that! The holidays do not need to be perfect, or even the same year to year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
Setting an expectation that the holidays need to be a certain way will cause additional stress and anxiety when things inevitably don’t work out. Releasing this expectation and enjoying what manifests itself will allow you to enjoy this time of year with the people you love most.
DON’T abandon your healthy habits.
The holidays present an opportunity to indulge, which you absolutely should do! But overindulging on holiday treats can lead to feelings of stress and guilt. A good way to stick to your habits this time of year is to plan a healthy snack before your holiday meals. Additionally, finding healthier substitutes of your favorite holiday treats is a great way to stay on track this holiday season.
It is also completely fine to enjoy a glass of your favorite adult beverage this season (if you’re over 21!), just make sure you are drinking plenty of water and being responsible. Being mindful and knowing it is okay to have your favorite things this season will reduce the feeling of guilt and added stress that causes you to get down on yourself!
DO prioritize your wellbeing.
Yes, the holidays are a time to spend with friends and family. But an overdose of togetherness can produce more stress than serotonin. Be sure to carve out some time for yourself this season. Reading a book, working out, or listening to your favorite podcasts are all great ways to spend some quality time with yourself while taking your mind off other stressors in your life.
Now could also be a great time to get a jump-start on your 2022 goals! Sign up for that group exercise class you’ve been wanting to try, start building towards your skin goals with a facial or start getting your body right with a custom massage. Many wellness centers, such as Massage Heights Indianapolis, are offering holiday promotions right now, so it is the perfect time to start prioritizing your wellbeing!