Customer specialist and blog editor at TextMagic
A traveler stands on a swing at a beautiful beach in Bali. (Shutterstock/File)
The holidays are an exciting time for many, but for others, it’s a time filled with a lot of stress. Whether grappling with never-ending to-do lists, shopping for gifts or decorating your home, things can quickly get overwhelming.
According to the American global health insurance company Cigna’s 360° Well-Being Survey for 2018, Indonesia is one of the world’s least-stressed nations. Only 75 percent of people say they suffer from stress, compared to a global average of 86 percent. But this percentage often goes up during the holiday season.
If you’re currently feeling the holiday stress, look no further. We’ll cover seven steps you can take to keep your holiday stress in check.
Start with a plan
Planning for the holiday season is the first step to reducing stress. Speaking of the gift-exchange tradition, you may want to avoid last-minute shopping sprees, so that you can spend more time with your loved ones.
Buy your gifts a few weeks before the holidays. Decide which stores you’ll visit and how much time you’ll spend shopping. If you plan on buying online, order everything days in advance to avoid shipping delays.
Traveling during the holidays? Be sure to plan for that as well. Despite the rainy and slightly higher temperatures in December, places like Bali and Jakarta become crowded during the holiday season.
Give yourself enough time to plan how you will travel, where you will stay and what activities you’ll do. Stick to your plan as closely as possible, but be flexible to change your plan if something doesn’t go right.
Keep your finances in check
The holiday season is also a time when everyone expects to spend a lot of money. Even though spending money during this time of year is inevitable, you can keep things under control by creating a budget.
Take some time to review your finances and figure out how much you can spend on gifts. Don’t buy expensive items that could affect your ability to cover your bills. You can also think of creative gifts that don’t involve money.
For example, you can offer to help a family member set up decoration or babysit your friend’s child for a weekend, so they can spend quality time with their partner. They’ll appreciate you for it.
Set aside time for yourself
Giving yourself some alone time is another excellent way to manage seasonal stress. You need to set some time during the day to relax and clear your mind. Even if it's just 30 minutes, you’ll feel a lot better when you allow yourself some alone time.
There are many ways to unwind. You can go out to a park and enjoy nature, find a quiet place in your home, or listen to music. It doesn’t matter what you do. Just find something that will get your mind off all the commotion of the holidays.
If you live in Jakarta, you can visit mangrove forest in Pantai Indah Kapuk to get some alone time. The place has a relaxing atmosphere and is perfect for escaping the holiday crowd in the city center. Or better yet, you can go to Bogor for a quick escape.
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind during the holiday season, but it can help you reduce your stress level and improve your mood. You don’t have to do intense, long workouts to feel the benefits of exercise.
Start with a goal of doing at least 15 minutes of physical activity at least three times a week. You can pick any exercise you want — whether it's walking, jogging, biking, swimming or other sport. Stick to a routine, and you’ll notice yourself feeling a lot more relaxed during the holidays.
If you don’t have a gym membership, you can also use the holiday season as a reason to get one. Instead of waiting for the new year, start your membership weeks before the holidays begin. Doing so will help you build the habit of exercise into your daily schedule.
Watch what you eat
While it’s important to keep your body in shape, you should also keep track of what you eat. It’s very tempting to overindulge in unhealthy food when you’re feeling stressed out, but this can do more harm than good.
Instead of filling up on unhealthy snacks and fatty foods, add some fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you’re hosting a holiday dinner, you can also change your recipe to offer your guests healthier options.
Eating an occasional candy bar or dessert is okay. Just don’t overdo it. Keep your consumption of junk food moderate and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself.
Express more gratitude
One way to feel less stressed during the holidays is to think about all the people and things that make you feel grateful. Research shows that people who practice daily gratitude live happier and healthier lives.
Gratitude also helps you build stronger relationships and enjoy positive experiences. There’s always something to be grateful for, whether it's your family, friends, community or pets.
The more you can appreciate what you already have, the less stress you’ll feel over the holidays. You’ll also be able to put everything into perspective and see that things aren’t as bad as you imagine them to be.
Get professional help if you need it
If you’ve tried everything you can but still end up feeling stressed and irritable, then it may be a sign of a bigger problem, such as depression. In this case, the best option would be to contact a doctor or mental health professional.
Your doctor will be able to explain different strategies you can use to improve your mood and prescribe medication if needed.
Summing up the above, you should be ready that things may not always go as you wish during the holidays. That’s okay — you don’t need to drive yourself crazy trying to make everything perfect. Take the pressure off yourself and accept things as they happen.
If you’re unable to visit your friends or family over the holiday season for whatever reason, you can still keep in touch with them through technology. Send a thoughtful text message, call them or use social media to stay in touch.
Surrounding yourself with those who care about you will not only put you in the holiday spirit, but it will also relieve your stress quickly.
Alexa Lemzy is the customer specialist and blog editor at TextMagic. She is passionate about text message technology, customer success and innovative marketing campaigns.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.