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How to Thrive, Not Just “Survive” the Holidays: 10 Stress Relief Tips

November 30, 2023

How to thrive, not survive during the holidays with stress coach, April Likins
I’m April Likins

Hey friend! If we haven't met, I am a board-certified health coach and stress relief expert who helps leaders and high achievers go from exhausted, and fried... to flourishing in all areas of their lives. Are you stressed or burned out? Here's how I can support you  Read more.

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The holiday season is suddenly upon us, and while it’s often a time of joy and celebration, it can also overwhelm most, especially high achievers who are prone to over-doing and over-committing.

Between the non-stop holiday gatherings, gift buying/wrapping/giving, endless food, shuffling kids around, and Q4 deadlines, it can leave you feeling stressed as you sprint towards year-end.    

However, trying to do it all can be a fast track to exhaustion, hitting a wall, and even burnout. (And remember, preventing burnout is far easier than recovering from it.

Here are a few stress relief tips to thrive during the holidays.

1) First things first, slow down and just breathe. 

Breathing slowly and deeply is a quick way to calm and regulate an overactive nervous system and help to ground you in the present moment. Mindfulness research has shown that when you change how you breathe, you can change how you feel. It can be as simple as counting your breaths in and out or trying the technique Navy SEALs use, box breathing

2) The most important thing to do daily.

When we see someone we care about, one of the first things we ask them is “how are you doing?” It’s a normal part of our everyday conversations, yet is something we often forget to ask ourselves.

Like the dashboard on your car, your body is always communicating. The problem is that too often, we’re not listening. However, the more you start to tune into those signals, the more you’ll learn to anticipate your needs and catch things before they go too far (like a full-blown migraine or insomnia cycle.)

Here’s what checking in with yourself daily looks like:

Taking 30 seconds to check in with yourself, asking how am I doing, really?

Then asking, what do I need today to feel my best and thrive?

So, what does listening to your body look like practically?

Today, when you check in, you might feel like you are craving a few minutes of sunlight and vitamin D. Tomorrow, you might notice your energy is zapped, and you want to get to bed 30 minutes earlier. The next day, you might feel like you have been sitting at your computer too long, and you’d really love to take a walk around the block with a friend or neighbor.

The more you tune into those signals, you will notice that what you feel like you need changes daily, weekly, etc. based on what is happening in your life or the season you’re in.

3) Set healthy boundaries around your time. 

You don’t have to say yes to every holiday invitation or great cause that lands on your plate. It’s perfectly okay to politely decline or drop by an event and leave early. For example, “I’m honored you invited me, but unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend this year.”

4) Schedule micro buffers into your calendar.

These allow you to pause and recharge, even for 10 minutes. Whether that’s getting up to stretch or taking a short walk, prioritize self-care to recharge your mind and body. Remember, rest isn’t something you have to earn. 

5) Keep things in perspective. 

Remember who and what is most important to you and why during this time. Let that be your guiding compass. 

6) Delegate and share responsibilities. 

Again, you don’t have to do it all alone. Delegate tasks and create a collaborative holiday experience.

7) Get quality sleep. 

Sleep is crucial for your mental and physical well-being, better-navigating stress, and maintaining a healthy immune system, so ensure you’re getting enough rest. 

8) Stay active. 

Movement and exercise are well-researched stress relievers and mood and energy boosters. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a Pilates session, or a quick strength training workout, all movement benefits your health and well-being. 

9) Count your blessings.

Sometimes they are harder to see, but there are always things to be grateful for. Take a few moments at the end of the day to visualize what went well or a few things (or people) you are thankful for.

What we focus on the most gets magnified in our lives. When you look for the good, you’ll discover more of it.

10) Unplug. 

Disconnecting from social media, the news, and even work is okay. When you set healthy boundaries around your screen time, you’ll be more present to focus on real-life connections and those moments of joy and awe you don’t want to miss this time of year.  

My latest guest podcast episode:

“The Irony of Burning Out From Passion.”

I chatted with my good friend and Emmy award-winning producer, Mariana Henninger, about how to recognize burnout and how passion can sometimes make you more prone to burnout.  

👉🏼 Listen to our conversation here.

Empire Secrets: "The Irony of Burning Out From Passion" with Mariana Henninger and stress coach, April Likins

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April Latest Podcast Episodes

Listen to my recent guest podcast appearances where I share how burnout happens (and how to prevent it), as well as my top stress relief techniques and how to better manage stress, 

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As a stress expert and coach, I 'm passionate about helping busy women break the cycle of stress and overwhelm so they can life a life they love. It's time to find balance and say goodbye to chronic stress for good.

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