Five ways to actually relax over the holidays

Read these expert tips for ways to ensure there’s some ‘me time’ before the new year.

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Drinking Red Wine in front of the fire

Photo: Masterfile

Are you frightened to even look at your calendar this holiday season? Between the jam-packed concerts, the swishy cocktail parties, the harried shopping trips and the stressful visits with family, its downright overwhelming.

If you could use some new rituals, read on. These five expert tips will ease your stress this holiday season and even — dare we say it — even help you relax!

1. Think your time through
“It’s like that old saying — start with the end in mind. What do you want the holidays to look like?” asks Brian Beech, a Newmarket-based clinical social worker. “If you imagine yourself in January, what would you like to be able to look back on that period and remember?” Thinking December through can help bring some clarity to what priorities you have, and what are more negotiable tasks. “Obviously some of those tasks have to get negotiated to some degree with family and whatnot, but I think thinking it through before going into it is so important.”

2. Do a reality check
Have realistic expectations for yourself and others, suggests Louise Veres an Oakville-based life coach. She encourages people to ask themselves, “What can you really manage? How much do you really want to do? And what’s possible, rather than trying to squeeze everything in,” before committing to too many things. “Take a look at your work schedules and what’s going on with family and go from there,” she advises.

3. Take care of yourself
When planning out the month, build in some of your favourite downtime activities — hitting that spin class you love to do, or just going to the movies with a good friend. “Just make sure that it is important because some people really do want to have some time with their family or even just for themselves to go out and do something and make sure that’s part of the plan,” says Veres. “Block off time for that to give yourself a sense of peace and calm.”

4. Set — and stick — to a budget
Where does this fit into managing seasonal stress? “The financial stress can also hit, so it’s important for people to be realistic, says Beech. “You hear so much now about people not taking on more debt and stressing themselves out at a cost,” which is a great step to getting back into the true spirit of the holidays. He advises setting a strict budget and sticking to it no matter what, “It’s so easy to get caught up in ‘more-is-better’, but the amount you spend isn’t equivalent to how you feel.”

5. Make a game plan for stressful events
Tensing up at the thought of visiting your uptight sister-in-law? “Exercise some decision-making beforehand with your partner about things like: how long are we going to be there? Can we have a check in discreetly to see how it’s going?” suggests Beech. “If possible, step away from the party or event or just go out and take a break or breaks. It’s all about feeling like you have choices and exercising those choices.”

What do you do over the holidays to ensure you get to relax?

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