With a long list of gifts to give and food to prep, the last thing you’re thinking about is you. But the secret to the holiday mindset? Clear your mind! Before you even think about your gluten-free guests or dodging your family’s inevitable life trajectory questions, here are 10 to-dos that will save your sanity all season long.
1. Say no to attending or hosting a party.
Say it with us: no. “To be happy we need to have a social life. However, there is a point of diminishing returns here. If we overextend ourselves and get involved with too many commitments, we risk feeling stressed and resentful toward others,” says YouBeauty Happiness Expert Matthew Della Porta, Ph.D. You don’t need that stress-induced zit to resurface, along with a family feud. So stop that ugly mess before it starts. What to do instead?
“Think carefully about your top two or three social priorities for the holiday season and fulfill them. Beyond these engagements, don’t be afraid to be choosy!” Della Porta says. “The holiday season is inherently stressful, so take advantage of opportunities to minimize this stress by keeping your social life simple and focused on those closest to you.” Don’t have to tell us twice!
2. Commit to spa time. The spa lounge can be jam-packed this time of year (even more stressful, hearing people gab about their holiday prep). Go when you can get some peace pre- or post-massage. Your best bet at most spas is Monday through Thursday between 11a.m. and 4p.m., according to William Myers, Spa Director at Haven Spa in New York City. (Request a much-needed lunch break and put it on your schedule so you don’t inadvertently accept a meeting request for that time.)
If you can’t get away to splurge for an hour, ask your partner for a neck massage—it can reduce the stress hormone cortisol. Come nighttime, take things into your own hands with a relaxing routine that rivals a spa. The goods: “Quality essential oils in the bath, exfoliating gloves or soap, candles and warm herbal neck wraps,” Myers suggests.
3. Fit in a fitness pose each day. You’ll ward off holiday blues and get your body ready to slip into your favorite dresses. Don’t know where to start? We have day-by-day yoga poses that you can follow in real-time. Yoga lifts mood by increasing levels of the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA. (Low GABA levels are associated with depression and anxiety.) And these ballet poses from Mary Helen Bowers will get you longer, leaner and have the poise to take on anything this season.
4. Write a gratitude note. Stuck on your Wish List? Stop and think of what you already have… Your friends and family! Pick someone to write your thanks to. “Sending a gratitude letter gives you the benefit of feeling grateful while making someone else feel good and appreciated,” Dr. Della Porta says. Even if you don’t send it, just writing what you appreciate about the relationship is proven to boost mood. “Realistically, few of us are able to live like this all of the time. However, the holiday season is a great time to experiment with this philosophy,” Della Porta says. So send that letter, already!