Holiday stress? “What’s that? I never feel stressed during the holidays” says my alter ego. The truth is that with the pace of the holidays and my ever-growing to-do list in December, it’s easy to feel like I’m going through the motions of the holiday season watching it all pass me by. However, I’ve found a few tips and tricks over the years that help me feel connected to my friends and family while keeping the real meaning of the season in perspective. When I’m truly connected and present, it helps me to actually enjoy the holidays and experience them to their fullest. Here’s what I’ve learned and I hope it works for you too:
Maximize Personal Time by Planning Ahead for Work
The holidays are incredibly busy at my company, Socially Intuit, and we work extra hard for our clients and their campaigns during this time. With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday deadlines within days of each other followed by a quick and busy December, planning in advance is key. By planning ahead, it’s less likely we’ll have to scramble or put out fires during our personal time. We are proactive so that we can enjoy the holidays with our families and loved ones while still getting the job done. The holidays bring days filled with parties, get-togethers, and shopping so make sure that you work ahead where you can so that your mind can be stress free and focused on the people in front of you.
Be a Happy Host
I love to prepare in advance when hosting so that on the day-of I can have fun with my guests. Once I’ve decided what I’m serving, I use the Cozi app to keep me organized for grocery shopping (i.e. helps me remember what’s on my list and prevents me from having to go back to the store). If I’m making homemade dessert, which is usually the case, I make sure to bake ahead of time so all I have to do is frost or finish them the next day. Tackle things you can do beforehand which include setting the table, unloading the dishwasher, and decorating a la House of Lilac with flowers. I love to fill my home with things that make me feel good especially when I’m going to have people visiting. My husband is in charge of selecting the wine every time – I trust his judgement and it takes one more thing off my plate. We’ve made it a new tradition to have a glass of wine together BEFORE our guests arrive. It helps us chill out and enjoy the reason why we’re hosting in the first place – which leads me to my next point…
Remember your Significant Other
If you’re married like me or have a significant other, remember to make time for each other during the holidays. When we need to recharge as a couple, I find that simple things we enjoy like going for a walk around the nearby golf course or simply sitting in the backyard to catch up on our day can be just what we need to beat the stress that often comes at the end of the year.
Share Special Moments on Social Media
How many articles have you read about “disconnecting” during the holidays? Read: stay off your phone and boycott social media completely. Realistically, that’s not happening for me since social media is my business. Instead, it’s a mindset shift for me. By sharing fun and personal meaningful moments on social media, it allows me to reconnect with social media as a personal outlet. It’s also fun to experience creating these moments with family members. Seriously, I have an Instagram highlight called “Fridays with Loli” where my 89-year-old grandma discovered Instagram filters for the first time.
If someone is on your mind, send them a sweet text, call them, or make a date - don't wait, just do it. The holidays are a happy time for most but can also be a time when some are feeling isolated. Small things like a positive message or mailing holiday cards can make a big difference.
Giving back is one of the ways that we can truly feel connected to ourselves, our friends and our community. Something simple like offering to babysit for a friend while she does her holiday shopping could mean the world to her. Another option is sponsoring a less-fortunate family for the holidays by bringing them a holiday meal and presents. Volunteering for a local nonprofit can help you feel connected to the community and make a difference.
So that’s it, these are a few things I try to implement over the holidays to actually live in the moment. There will certainly be a different combination of things that will work better for each of you, but if there’s just one thing I can recommend, it’s to do what makes you and your family happy. Before you know it, it’ll be January and the normal routine will be back. Take some time, plan ahead, and enjoy the holidays with those that matter most to you.
Katrina Vargas Vila is the founder and creative director of social agency Socially Intuit. She lives in Coral Gables, FL with her husband and fur baby. Follow her on social: @katrinavargasvila