Let's Ask an Expert: 7 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
Yep- it’s November in Maine. Chickadees are fattening up and preparing their nests for a long snowy winter. The wood is stacked, the Jack-o-Lanterns composted, and the calendar is filling up faster than a third grader’s Christmas list.
There’s a lot to think about right now. Throw in a 24-hour news cycle that isn’t exactly fun to watch, and you might just be ready to run away for a month at an off-the-grid hut (we’ll support your decision). But for those of us who aren’t quite ready for that kind of commitment, it’s time to prepare ourselves, mentally and physically, for the next few months of wonderful, magical chaos.
To learn more about the best ways to de-stress over the holidays and still have fun, we reached out to Dr. Megan Britton from Belfast, Maine. An adventurous globe-trotting mother of two with a busy medical practice, she knows a thing or two about busy schedules. As a doctor specializing in Integrative Medicine, she’s an expert on managing stress.
Here’s her 7 step guide to staying stress-free this holiday season
1. Welcome the chaos.
Accept that you will experience stress- and don’t worry about it too much. Sure, long-term stress is unhealthy, but occasionally feeling overwhelmed isn’t the end of the world. Don’t let the idea of stress become the cause.
2. Be flexible.
With travel, parties, and holiday guests, there’s a good chance your regular routine of exercise and healthy eating will be put to the test. Do the best you can to maintain your routine, and don’t let a few days of indulgence open the door to full-on gluttony… you’ll only feel worse, and it will be a lot harder to get back on track. When it comes to daily exercise and healthy food, the bare minimum is a lot better than nothing.
3. Embrace what you love about the holidays, and forget the rest.
If you love eggnog, have a glass or two when the mood strikes. But if you don’t care about gingerbread cookies, don’t just eat them because they’re there. Same goes for your schedule. Make conscious decisions about the foods, traditions, and invitations that truly bring you joy, and say, ‘no thank-you’ to those that don’t.
4. Get Outside and Sweat.
Exercise produces the same chemical reaction in your brain as an anti-depressant. Nature has similar effects- so combining the two is even better. It’s really the best way to stay mentally and physically at the top of your game any time of year, but is especially important over the holidays. This is great weather for hiking and trail running, so get outside and move!
Maybe you can’t do a month at a backcountry hut, but scheduling a night or two of down time is a great way to recharge. Whether spending the weekend in the woods, or just relaxing at home, keep it easy- focus on quiet reflection, long nature walks, and screen-free time with your favorite people.
6. Shop Less.
Spend less effort (and money) on things, and share experiences instead. A multi-generational outing will be remembered for years, but things will always turn into clutter, which inevitably becomes trash. Forget the stuff- share a new adventure instead.
7. Create reasonable expectations.
It can be a lot of fun to come up with a Pinterest-worthy Thanksgiving table, but know when to take it easy. What starts as ‘festive holiday planning’ can start feeling like a chore before you know it. Stay aware of your stress levels, and know that perfecting that cranberry-pomegranate glaze is really not worth your sanity.
So this holiday season, let’s focus a little more on fresh air, and a little less on standing in line to swipe our cards. Let’s gather our favorite people and cook, sing, laugh, and explore the woods together. Let’s burn a few batches of cookies, go for a run, and ignore our phones. And when you’re ready to book that quick getaway into the woods, give us a call.