The holidays are usually a crazy time for me. Yes, I might take some time off work, but with five daughters, my house is always full, it’s always busy and it’s always loud. December is not typically a time for relaxation and rejuvenation.
But it should be.
The holidays stress out an incredible 88% of Americans, and 31% say the season is “frantic”. There’s a lot to stress about, after all – hosting extended family, cooking large dinners, sending out cards, buying gifts, and, of course, spending money. The average American spends over $1000 on holiday gifts, decorations and candy.
Women, who are often the ones buying the presents, planning the meals, budgeting, and scheduling activities for the kids, carry the burden of a lot of that pressure. According to the State of American Vacation 2017, women are more likely to let guilt, workload, or stress prevent them from taking the time they need to recharge.
This year, take out the list of gifts you need to order, groceries you need to buy, addresses you need to collect, and errands you need to run. Then, put your own name at the top of that list. And make a promise to yourself that you’ll come out of this holiday more refreshed than frazzled.
Here are some ways to make that happen:
Escape the Crowds
The holidays are a time of abundance, and invitations are no exception. Office potlucks, family visits, friends’ parties, work events and classroom celebrations can take up the whole season if you let them.
It’s okay to say no to parties. If dressing up, finding babysitters and making small talk sounds more exhausting than it’s worth, it’s okay to politely decline invitations. It’s okay to miss a party and spend time at home instead, lounging in the bathtub with some candles and soft holiday music.
Or, if you want to get away without all the stress of booking a hotel, consider this hack: Swap houses with a friend. Treat each other like an Airbnb guest. You can explore a new town or even just a new neighborhood.
Put down your phone and pick up a glass of wine instead. You don’t have to respond to everyone, all the time. Put an out-of-office notification on your email, turn your phone to silent, or leave it at home when you go out for an evening. Or give yourself a phone ”curfew.”
If you’re planning a trip, look for places that have terrible reception and no WiFi. I’ve known more than one person to blame a cruise ship for their unresponsiveness. Choose a destination where you can look up at the stars at night, instead of down at your phone.
Reconnect with Nature
Find some nature this holiday season. Get out in it. “Forest bathing” is today’s hot new trend for a reason: Even a 20 minute walk has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and 30 minutes in nature a week has been linked to reduced risk of depression and heart disease. Your body needs vitamin D to kick those winter blues, so even if you’re not lying on a beach this New Years, you can still get out into the sun or out in the woods. Go camping phone free. If you can’t quite get yourself to sleep on the ground or forego a shower (me neither), go glamping. Find a hut, a cabin or yurt that suits your budget and get a good night’s sleep while still enjoying the benefits of nature.
Revive your Body
This holiday season, don’t forget your body. All that wine, cheese, sugar and late nights in high heels take a toll. Find a way to balance it all. Hiking has benefits beyond reducing your blood pressure. It can also increase your heart rate and get you out in nature.
My personal favorite way to destress is a massage – any massage. It’s not just an hour of pampering; it’s also an hour of blissful silence. When I traveled to Thailand, I found the $10 USD Thai massage to be the best daily indulgence of the trip!
Sneak in a yoga or stretch class if you seek solitude, or schedule a round of golf or a tennis match with an old friend if you seek quality connection. Show that body a little love. After all, it just got you through another year.
If you refill your cup this holiday, you’ll actually have something to pour into next year, instead of running on empty. This holiday season, I’ll be putting myself on the list – on the beach, phoneless.
Heather Combs is Chief Revenue Officer of 3Pillar Global.