Allow yourself some time away from the demands of the holidays.
Treat yourself to some alone time; this simple act of self-care may increase your goodwill toward men (and women and children). “Brief escapes from social expectations and obligations can reduce stress hormones and help relieve mental fatigue, which can make you feel more refreshed and ready to celebrate,” says Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do.
In fact, a 2017 report in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found people who carved out just 15 minutes of solitude daily experienced an increase in feelings of peacefulness, calm, and relaxation. And when they did that every day for seven days, those positive effects spilled over to the following week, as well.
To get there, start by re-framing how you look at solitude. “Instead of seeing it as something to shoehorn in, see it as something to plan around,” says clinical psychologist Laurie Helgoe, PhD, author of Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life is Your Hidden Strength. “When you know you have some alone time coming up, it’ll help you feel less swallowed by the sea of activity during the holidays.” Here are four ways to do just that.
Wake up 10 minutes earlier.
Rising before the rest of your household can be both calming and exhilarating. Use that time to enjoy a cup of tea, take a lingering shower, or meditate—in blissful silence.
Want to manage your holiday stress a little better? These tips and tricks may help:
- This Pantry Staple Can Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep
- Science Confirms What We Knew All Along: Chocolate Can Reduce Stress
- Mental Health Is a Part of Overall Health—And We Need to Pay More Attention to It
Don’t bail at the last minute.
Wiggling out of holiday plans at the eleventh hour may offer solitude, but chances are it’ll be served with a hefty side of guilt. Instead, “politely decline well in advance so you don’t find yourself apologizing or feeling as though you’re letting anyone down,” says Helgoe.
Create therapeutic to-dos.
Plan purposeful pit stops during errands: End a stressful shopping trip with a drive past holiday lights, or take a coffee break to read a few pages of a book. At the same time, morph other to-dos, such as card writing or gift wrapping, into a stretch of solitude. “But they need to be activities you want to do,” says Helgoe. “If they don’t add meaning to your holiday, don’t do them.” Zero in on a favorite task, give yourself plenty of time, send the family out, and enjoy.
Any time you feel overwhelmed or overstimulated, excuse yourself for a walk outside. The time away from chatter will help you recalibrate, and seeing nature will calm you further. “Nature is very restorative and will make you feel a lot better than stealing some solitude in a cloistered bathroom,” says Helgoe.