By Dr. Rebecca Richey

The holidays are a special time of the year, filled with love, laughter and fun; however, all of the merry-making can also cause a lot of STRESS. Below, you’ll find some de-stressing tips and tricks that are part and parcel to getting through the holidays with your wellness intact:

Maintain your wellness routine. Don’t let the holidays, the food, the cold weather, or the extra social activities keep you from taking care of your own wellness. If you have a physical activity routine that keeps you healthy, ask for some warm clothes for the holidays and keep it up despite the snow. If limiting your sugar intake boosts your wellness, remind yourself of your limits before reaching for those cookies at the holiday party. Keep ahold of your sleep routine during this time of increased social expectation as well. It’s perfectly ok to be the first to leave the party–it just means you’ll enjoy a full night of sleep as well as the next day, well rested.

Delegate, delegate, delegate. Think of the holidays as a time to pass down tradition. In this spirit, let younger members of your family or friend group step up and take on the challenge of hosting a large meal or the big holiday party. Watch the children around you learn to bake, cook or wrap presents. Help as much as you want, but think of it as passing on the torch instead of feeling guilty for not putting out all of the effort.

Set a budget for yourself–and stick to it. There are many opportunities to indulge during this time of year, and many of them require extra funds to make it possible. Set out how much you’ll spend on gifts, how much you’ll spend on going out in celebration, and how much you plan to spend on other items–decorations, baking accessories, and travel. It can add up fast, and having a plan to keep yourself in line will cut down on your holiday stress.

Focus on the fun. It can be very easy to get lost in the busy-ness of the holidays–and with this busyness, the focus can turn to anxiety about potential negative family interactions, stress around money, or sadness about relatives or friends who have passed. Instead of letting these emotions and experiences set the tone for your celebrations, focus on the positives around you. Write a list of things about your holiday celebrations you’re grateful for. Look around you to find more items to add to your list as you move through the season.

Put it all into perspective. Family, food, friends and fun–the very factors that make the holidays great can also cause undue stress. The knowledge that this time is fleeting, and that life will return to “normal” in due time may help you navigate through this tumultuous time. It may help to keep a journal of your experience as you travel back to your hometown for the holidays, or as you see friends and family you don’t interact with frequently. Taking note of your experiences helps you maintain some control over them.

Take some “me” time. You may be the host(ess) with the most(ess), but remember that it’s ok to take some time to process and relax. Take a walk in your winter wonderland, draw some doodles, or take a relaxing bath–complete with bubbles or epsom salts. Taking time to rejuvenate will not only make you feel better–it will make it easier and more fun for you to interact with others around you.

Overall, remember to take care of yourself BEFORE you take care of those around you during the holidays. Your health and wellness are of utmost importance, and will help you make this time as special for others as it is for you. I look forward to sharing more tips and tricks with you during our Zoom Series: Navigator Wellness Hour, coming January 2018.

Dr. Rebecca Richey is a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, and a certified addictions counselor. She has been working as a mental health clinician for over a decade. She will be facilitating our upcoming Zoom series starting in January, Navigator Wellness Hour, a self-care opportunity for navigators to come together and share experiences.