Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress

Sometimes a little romance can help turn a bad day into a good one. Case in point, last night I came home to find my house keys were no where to be found. I left them in my office at work, an hour’s ride away on public transit. I was supposed to cook supper for my boyfriend, my kitchen sink was a mess, I had a full load of groceries in hand and I couldn’t even get into the door! This on top of the fact that it’s nearly Christmas and I still need to go shopping, my laundry hasn’t seen a washing machine in far too long, my cat’s food dish is empty…you can see where I was beginning to spiral into misery just from this innocuous event. I’ve locked myself out plenty of times, why should it have bothered me so much last night? Maybe it was just the whole week was beginning to stress me out. So I called to let the boyfriend know that plans had changed. He hadn’t left his place yet, but when he heard what had happened, he wasn’t worried. “Oh, it’s okay,” he replied, “I still have that key you gave me, remember?”

Sometimes trusting your new boyfriend with the key to your place leads to unexpected pleasant surprises.

He suggested I head to my Starbucks to chill until he arrived, so I did just that. It was better than slowly going cold in the dark. I ordered a small hot chocolate with whipped cream (as I felt I finally had an occasion to deserve a little whipped cream in my hot choc) and sat down to wait. The only thing to keep me amused until the boyfriend arrived was my phone. Luckily, I have an Android, with an e-reader app on it, which I’ve been using more each day, and the first thing I looked for was something light and fluffy in the online bookstore.

It was the salve I needed to apply to a bad day. My cares drifted away as I plunged into a short novella by Tessa Dare. Getting locked out of my house on a Tuesday night after a long day at work no longer seemed that important because I wanted to find out the identity of a mysterious, sexy Breton who washed up on the shores of England. And then the nicest thing happened, my very own hero came along, with goodies and a smile on his face that told me that it would all be alright.

Feeling stressed out this week like I’ve been? Might I suggest taking a little time, maybe with some hot chocolate even, and giving in to a little fictional fantasy. It may just calm you down enough to get through this last potentially stressful week before the holidays. It certainly helped me last night! But if you’re searching for more ways to feel a bit less freaked out as the days slip by, here are a few more tips.

1. Take Time for Yourself
Taking some time for yourself each day, whether it be a lunch break, a coffee break or even just a half hour nap right after work will help you calm down. The important thing is to not think about the stuff that stresses you out during that time, though. Keep your head free of any distractions–focus on your lunch, the textures and flavour of your food, or the indulgent latte you’ve ordered for yourself. If you can’t seem to get your head out of the stress-zone, consider writing everything down onto paper, as though you’re emptying yourself of the worries that plague you. When you’re finished, put that piece of paper away and don’t look at it until after the holidays. Chances are you’ll go back to it and see how silly your worries were!

2. Just Say No
There’s a lot of pressure around the holidays to do stuff with friends and family. If you’re finding yourself stretched thin, consider being more selective in what you do so that you’re not constantly out and you have time to rest. A busy social life is great, but if you’re losing sleep, drinking and eating too much, and spending too much money your stress levels are affected majorly. You don’t want to end up exhausted and hungover by Christmas Eve. Consider your social engagements in moderation (along with everything else!)

3. Enjoy it while it lasts!
There are two things to remember about the holiday season: it’s meant to be pleasant and it doesn’t last forever. Before you know it, Christmas is over and we’re left with nothing but aching bellies and strange gifts from our Aunt Norma (thanks for those socks, Aunt Norma!) So while I did mention in the last tip to not overdo the holidays, do enjoy them. No one likes a Grinch and it’s really not all that bad. Shopping for others? Gift wrapping? Holiday card writing? All of these things can be quite pleasurable.

Do you have your own tips for getting over holiday stress? What’s your favourite way to get through this hectic season with your sanity intact?

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Comments ( 5 )
  1. Kaelee
    December 21, 2011 at 11:06 pm
    Reply

    Hi Olga ~ I find when I’m stressing a lot that sitting and playing a game on the computer frees me up as I have to concentrate on the game. Just having a small stress free period gives me a boost. However there is nothing like a good romance to shake the stress. If I can soak in the tub with a book i’m really relaxing.

  2. Olga @ Harlequin Blog
    December 22, 2011 at 11:45 am
    Reply

    Totally, Kaelee! A bathtub soak with a good book is the definitive way to relax. I wish I had a bathtub to do that in. My old place had this lovely big tub that I could soak in for hours, but my current apartment has an upright shower. Ah, the joys of small spaces…

    I love playing Mahjonng on my phone to destress, too. It keeps me calm on long subway rides. 🙂

  3. Kathleen O'Donnell
    December 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm
    Reply

    Getting through the holiday season is always a very trying time, and this year even more so as this will be the first year with out my mother. It has been very hectic, but this last week is quiet and just what I need. I have been watching all my fav holiday movies and reading some great and wonderful Christmas books..
    I had my pedicure this week, and it was a great way to just relax and feel rejuvinated.

  4. Tara Stevens
    December 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm
    Reply

    Great post, Olga! And so romantic. 🙂 I appreciate the tips, too – I’m going to try and remember them during my three-day family marathon in the next few days 😉

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