Even though the holidays are a time for heading home, spending time with loved ones, and relaxing; they can be as stressful as finals week! Between finding the perfect gifts, long lines, and awkward political discussions with the family, sometimes we run into unexpected road bumps during the holidays. Here are 10 tips to keeping your holiday stress free.
1. Shop online instead of in-store!
Malls can get uncomfortably crowded during holiday shopping season. To avoid this blitz, do most of your Christmas shopping online! There’s still time to get your gifts shipped right before Christmas. Even if they don’t come on time, it’s better to know that you have the perfect gift coming in rather than waiting until last minute to get it at the store and finding out that it’s out of stock.
2. Ship items directly to your giftee’s address.
If you have friends on the other side of the country, or even if you’re planning on buying gifts online for someone near you, if you’re really pressed for time, try shipping the item directly to your giftee’s address! Many websites allow you to ship items with gift wrapping and a message, so you don’t have to worry about mailing gifts yourself!
3. Plan out how you’re getting home!
Celebrations can get pretty wild, and that’s a big source of holiday stress. To make sure you and your group of friends are safe, always plan out how you will all get home safely that night, whether it be by designated driver, taxi, or ride-sharing services like Lyft or Uber. If you know that you and your friends will be getting home safely, you can feel free to have an exciting night!
4. Plan out how you’re getting back to school efficiently.
A lot of us go to school out of state, and that means flights, layovers, and hanging out in airports. Some people I know have bought round trip tickets, with the first leg being their ticket back to college in January, and the second leg being their ticket back home in the summer. Buying a spread out round trip ticket like this can be cost-effective and will stop you from worrying about when (or if) you need to head home for the summer!
5. Spend some (but not all!) of your time preparing for next semester.
This seems somewhat counter-intuitive, but trust me on this one. If you’re always worried about school, like I am, sometimes the anxiety surrounding academics can eclipse the joy of the holiday season. To get rid of this residual school stress, set aside some time every week preparing for next semester: perhaps by planning your schedule, reading ahead, or doing some work for your extracurriculars. How you spend this time is up to you, but your future self will thank you for not completely slacking off during holiday break!
6. Choose your battles.
The fact of the matter is that family members are going to disagree about outside issues during gatherings. Your super-conservative aunt and fresh-out-of-college cousin might fight over the tax rates, or maybe one of your uncles is grumbling about how millennials are lazy and you’re itching to name twenty examples that will prove him wrong. As much as dropping some knowledge would feel good, how great would the situation actually turn out? Honestly, not well. You may feel like you’re in the right, but it would cause awkward family tension. Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing at all, and sometimes you have to eliminate the problem at the root… Thus, the next tip.
7. If you’re family is cool with it, create a no-politics zone during family gatherings.
A lot of holiday stress can come from the dinner table. Yes, you have disagreements, but at the end of the day, you all love each other. Sometimes the best way to realize that is to remove the elements that make us disagree. Try to suggest this to family members before any big gatherings to see if they’re okay with it! (And if they’re not…well, remember to choose your battles and not to force it.)
8. Have a cup of herbal tea.
I can’t really vouch for any scientific proof that herbal tea reduces holiday stress, but at least in my personal experience, taking time to decompress and drink a hot beverage really helps calm the nerves.
9. Don’t hate, meditate!
Sometimes the holidays go by far too fast. It’s alright to take a breather and just take a break from the world for a little bit. Look up guided meditation online, listen to some ambient music, and breathe deeply. Meditation is a great tool for centering oneself and putting things into perspective.
10. Volunteer and donate.
One of the best ways to remove stress is to do nice things for other people. Around the holidays, there are several volunteer and donation opportunities. You could go to a soup kitchen and help out, or donate some toys to organizations that give gifts to children in need. The possibilities are endless, and what better way is there to remove stress than by making someone else’s holidays a little brighter?