Tis’ the season, right? It’s a time of happiness and joy and merriment, right? It can also be one of the most stressful times of year for a mom, and possibly even more so for a single mom. It is a time of preparation, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, organizing, and so much more. And it’s a time of extreme loneliness and depression. But somehow, we make it to the other end of the holidays, but most times we’re exhausted and can barely remember what happened during this joyous times of year.
The past two weeks have been and continue to be hectic – Micah’s Christmas show was last week, we’re travelling to Florida this week and I haven’t even packed yet, I got all my Christmas shopping completed last week (I started and finished last week – hectic!), I’m stressing over work, Micah has been sick for the past couple of weeks, I got sick for a little bit, I’ve gained a ton of weight between Thanksgiving and now – just thinking about it all is making me completely exhausted.
Stress is definitely an issue during the holidays, but there are some ways to get rid of stress…read some below!
There are strategies to make the holidays less stressful so you can enjoy the time with your family without walking away exhausted and stressed out.
1. Find some “me time”.
Yeah, I know that’s a difficult statement to make seeing as you can’t find “me time” during a normal day, but it is a much needed strategy to reduce stress during the holidays. Personally, I find time for myself late at night while Micah sleeps. I’ll watch my shows on DVR, or I’ll sit and read some of the books that have been sitting on my nightstand forever collecting dust, or I’ll start preparing some blog posts. All of these things help me to relax. What are the things that you do just for you?
2. Lean on your support system now more than ever.
Loneliness and depression creeps up so quickly during the holidays, even when you haven’t experienced it all during the year. But seeing the families around you just enjoying the time together, while you’re at home alone or it’s just you and your children – it’s definitely a tough pill to swallow during the holidays. This is the time where you need to lean on your support system now more than ever. Visit your family and friends during the holidays – laugh, have fun, stay active. This will help to reduce that stress during the holidays.
3. Create your own traditions.
This tip is especially important for those single parents who will not be with their children during the holidays. Christmas does not need to be on December 25th – it can be on the 24th, the 20th, or even the 8th! Don’t get stuck on the fact that you won’t see your children that day, focus on the fact that your children are with you on another day. Micah and I are celebrating Christmas at home for the next 2 weeks because we’ll be in Florida on Christmas day, and I’m not lugging Christmas gifts on the flight. Am I worried about it? Nope. We’re together, and we’re celebrating the holidays – that’s all that matters. Focus on the moments you have, and don’t dwell on the moments that you don’t have.
4. Treat Yourself.
Retail therapy is definitely a great option to help you relax. Yes, I know – you spend so much time during the holidays shopping, why would shopping at this time be therapy? Because you’re shopping for yourself! Do you ever buy anything for yourself to celebrate the holidays or to celebrate a particular achievement? Then, you need to start! A couple of months ago, I bought myself the Samsung Gear watch to celebrate a huge achievement. And for Christmas, I bought myself a few pairs of flats at Payless. Simple, yes. A great treat, absolutely. You should definitely make the effort to treat yourself.
5. Take a break.
Sometimes we become even more so overwhelmed and stressed when we think about the issues at hand. If work is stressing you out, focus on work while at work. Use the time at work to focus and accomplish all the tasks you have to complete. That way, once you get home, you can focus on being with your child and enjoy that time relaxing. The end of the year is always hectic, and it’s always significantly more so when you are working in a budget-driven role. The stress is not going to completely go away until the new year, but at least you know you are accomplishing as much as you can each day at work because you are removing all distractions and putting full effort into your work.
6. Stick to your budget.
One important way I avoid stress during the holidays is to make sure that I stick to my holiday budget. I save a minimal amount each pay period throughout the year, and the amount collected is my holiday budget. And I stick to it – I want to make sure that I don’t cause unnecessary stress by spending beyond this budget. (Here are some financial tips for single moms.) If you allow yourself to stick to your budget, you will walk away from the holidays without feeling a huge impact on your wallet.
7. Dance like no one is watching.
My son and I love to turn on some music and dance, dance, dance. During the holidays, we turn on the Christmas music and just have a great time. It’s a great way to exercise, have some fun with your children, and you stop focusing on all the reasons that you’re stressed out. Try it – I’m sure both you and your kids will enjoy the fun, dancing the day away.
8. Keep it simple.
If you’re worried about how you’re getting to get all the things on your child’s Christmas list, or the likelihood that you won’t see all of your family or friends for the holiday, or the possibility of being alone for the holidays – Stop that thinking now. It will only create more anxiety and stress that you really don’t need. Keep the holidays simple – focus on what you can do, and don’t stress about the things that you cannot do. Create the holiday celebration that will work best for you and your family in order to ensure that you will have fun and reduce stress.
9. Get some much-needed sleep.
Stress is only magnified when you don’t have enough sleep. Make sure to get some extra sleep during the holidays. You may be stressed out from shopping, end-of-the-year work, putting up the Christmas tree, holiday celebrations – make sure to squeeze in extra sleep to get some relaxation that you so desperately need after all of those extra activities. Determine to let your body rest and nap and sleep when it is crying out for that kind of down time.
10. Avoid emotional eating.
I am so incredibly guilty of emotional eating during the holidays; but is so important to avoid it, especially during the holidays. Emotional eating is the cause, and effect in many cases, of stress. Emotional eating can be caused by the level of stress you’re experiencing at any particular time. But the effect of emotional eating is weight gain, which can be another level of stress for a single parent. Sometimes its difficult to find time to exercise as a single parent, so those added pounds only makes the holidays a more stressful time than it already is.
11. Think positive and be positive.
It’s amazing what a positive outlook will do for your mood and sanity. It’s very important to stay positive during these stressful times. The holidays will be here and gone before you know it, but you still have to survive it. Focus on positivity during the holidays – think about your impending vacation (if you’re taking time off) or the couple of days you’ll have off for Christmas and New Years. Think about the time that you’ll spend with family and/or friends. Think about the fact that it will hopefully start to calm down in January. Think about summer time – the closer we get to January is the closer we get to June lol. Think positive and be positive.
12. Invest in a nice bottle of wine.
This last tip is probably my favorite – invest in a nice bottle of wine and relax while your kids are asleep. I usually have a few glasses of wine on Christmas eve, and doze off in the early hours of Christmas morning. I wake up feeling relaxed and refreshed, and ready for the madness that is Christmas. If you’re really stressed out for the holidays, you may definitely want to take advantage of this strategy.