Just like Santa’s sleigh, you can only take so many white Christmas pot lucks, and decking the halls soirees before you start to feel a tad burnt out. Combine all of the celebrating and social obligations with family drama, mugs of egg nog (spiked, of course), late night wrapping sessions, mall trips, and credit card swipes and your holiday spirit can really start to drag.
While the holiday season can be described as “the most wonderful time of the year” for some—for others it can also be the most lonely, financially strapped, stressful, and depressing time of the year. Here are eight tips for preventing holiday burn out…
1. Get Your Daily D
Winter might be full of shiny ornaments, sparkling tinsel, and twinkling lights, however, it is also a prime season for SAD (or seasonal affective disorder) due to lack of physical activity and sunshine (or vitamin D).
While many are holly and jolly, if you suffer from SAD, you may feel depressed, exhausted, and just want to hibernate until springtime. However, hibernating inside with the blinds drawn will put you at risk for Vitamin D deficiency, which will exacerbate daytime fatigue and your winter blues.
2. Adopt a Helping Spirit
When we help others out of the goodness of our hearts, we don’t usually do so expecting anything in return. However, if you wrap gifts, serve food at a local shelter, visit the elderly, or hand out coats to the homeless during the holidays you really are getting something back for your efforts.
Research published by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, found that participating in altruistic or volunteer efforts encourages the release of endorphins, which are like little happiness hormones that prevent fatigue and depression. Yet the findings show that committing selfless acts don’t only help us feel good emotionally—altruism is also linked to lowering anxiety and depression, and decreasing the risk of mortality.
3. Fa-la-la-la Festive Food Coma
You might be tempted to do like Santa Claus and gobble down every last shortbread cookie in the batch. However, the food coma and sugar high (and sugar crash) that follows won’t leave you in any shape to pass out gifts or slide down any chimneys.
We’re all bound to overeat at least once during the holidays. But the more frequently you binge eat, the more frequently you’ll suffer a sugar crash—as sugar floods the bloodstream and blood abandons it’s regular route to aid the breakdown of food in the digestive system. This obviously causes extreme discomfort, drowsiness, and exhaustion. If you plan to partake in rich foods, be sure to combine your sweet and fatty foods with a few high fiber, high protein items to prevent becoming Rip Van Winkle at your holiday party.
4. Maintain Your Sleep Schedule
If you’re up all night shopping, or wrapping, or even waiting for Santa you’re bound to miss out on much needed sleep, which can result in lowered immune function, not to mention moodiness.
If you’re feeling run down during the holidays the best thing you can do is prevent sickness by catching some much needed zzzzz’s. Amidst the holiday parties, baking, shopping, and visiting, it’s also important to try to keep a regular sleep-wake schedule to keep your immunity strong.
5. Sweat Off Stress
Tis’ the season to be S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D! We’re often stretched farther than Santa’s red pants during the holidays thanks to the many family and work obligations, financial stresses, overeating and overdrinking, and more!
However, that doesn’t mean you should forget about exercise. Not only will a brief sweat session (i.e., a run, yoga class, or brisk walk) help us combat all the stress coming at us from a multitude of directions—exercise will rejuvenate the body and mind when we’re feeling low on holiday zip!
6. Practice Saying “No”
If you expect to say “yes” to all of the holiday parties, family events, holiday brunches, holiday donations, pot luck feasts, and Christmas cookies—think again! Trying to please everyone is sure to leave you exhausted, moody, overfed, and overworked.
Remember, unlike Santa’s reindeer, you don’t have the ability to go from one side of the city to the other in a flash. Spreading yourself too thin to please others will leave you prone to sickness, lack of sleep, and becoming a big green Grinch. Learn to say “no” to certain holiday obligations so that you can concentrate on those that really matter.
7. Gift Yourself Some Me-Time
Between parents and Grandparents scheduling family dinners, kid’s concerts, out-of-town friends who are dying to see you, and in-laws passing through town for “just one day”—family obligations can consume our schedules during this festive time of year.
Remember, the holidays are yours to enjoy as well. So make a point to snatch some quality me-time back for yourself and don’t you dare feel guilty about it. Make sure to take some time to distress and unwind with a bath, a yoga class, a cup of tea, or an hour to yourself amidst all the hustle and bustle.
8. Be a Merry Music Maker
Studies show that listening or playing music is a great way to battle holiday stress and depression. And you don’t have to play “Silver Bells” either—listening to favorite tunes from any music genre will do the trick.
In fact, music therapy was shown to lowering rate of depression and physiological stress, in research conducted by the Central and Northwest London Foundation NHS Trust, based in London, England. The study monitored a group of college students who performed an oral presentation with music or lack of music in the background. Those with music playing in the background experienced lower anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure, and better mood compared to those participants who presented minus tunes.