It’s almost time to shut down the computer, forget the files, and kick back with some egg nog and sugar cookies with the family. The snow’s on the ground. The lights are up. Nothing but Christmas movies are playing on TV. But for as much joy as the holidays bring, they double down on the stress. Getting the perfect gifts. Paying for all the presents. Cleaning the house for guests. Traveling the icy roads. And, of course, the yearly family argument–no one can be around their family for an extended period of time without some old fight being rehashed.

Being healthy and happy isn’t just about eating right and getting physical activity. It’s important to focus on your mental well-being, too. There’s no way to be active and eat right when heaps of stress are bogging you down. I’ve collected a few things I like to do over the holidays to ensure I come home with my sanity. Hopefully these will help keep your holidays as fun and relaxing as they should be.

1. Make some gifts.

Sure, you can buy all the hot electronics super cheap on Black Friday, but nothing shows how much you care like a handmade something, even if it’s just a stocking stuffer to go with the big gifts. And don’t give me the “I’m not an artist” routine. We’re all artists in our own ways, whether we can sew, paint, sing, or knit. If a full-blown present is too much, at least make your cards. There’s nothing like spending some downtime on art. It’s really one of the most relaxing and therapeutic things you can do. It helps take your mind off things, gives you a chance to express yourself, and lets you work at your own pace. My wife has a pretty sweet Pinterest board with some ideas if you need them.

Homemade coasters. Super easy gifts that are a blast to make!
Homemade coasters. Super easy gifts that are a blast to make!


2. Time with family, time with self.

holiday poolIt’s great to get away from the office and spend time with your family, especially if you don’t get to see them very often. Don’t overdo it, though. Trying to pack in all the missed hours from the year in one three-day trip is not going to go well. Don’t forget this is your vacation, too, so spend a little time relaxing and doing what you want. You can only play Apples to Apples so many times before things come to blows. I usually have a few projects or activities planned over the holidays so I can take a break and spend some time doing what I want to do. 

3. Go lazy, not crazy.

My wife gets pretty irritated with me on this one, but the holidays are a time to relax. You can vacuum and do the dishes in two weeks. Until that first Sunday before work, there’s no such thing as “chores”. You don’t have to trash the place, but don’t spend all your free time over the holidays cleaning the house (unless that’s the relaxing thing you really, really want to do). When I take a break for the holidays, I take a break.

For all the stress they can bring, the holidays are still a special time of year. Don’t overload yourself. Just relax and enjoy your time, however you’re spending it this year. If you have some other tips for keeping the stress away during the holidays, please share them in the comments!

Holden Armstrong

Holden Armstrong is the coordinator of Activate Buffalo County, a community health initiative that promotes active living and healthy eating as part of the Buffalo County 2020 Vision. Health resources, local events and activities, plus a lot of other cool stuff can be found at their website: Activate Buffalo County is powered by Buffalo County Community Partners.