Holidays are that special time of year where you get to spend time with family, indulge in lots of delicious meals, attend office holiday parties, watch your children at school concerts, bake holiday treats, shop for gifts, decorate the Christmas tree, put up holiday lights, prepare your home for guests and the list goes on and on!! While the holidays bring excitement and joy, they can also create a lot of stress and anxiety as we try to cram as much holiday cheer into each day. Here’s 5 tips on how to manage the holiday busy season and maintain your sleep schedule:
1. Get organized for the holidays
The holiday season is fun but also extra busy. Too many activities, even if they are fun activities, can create holiday stress and leave us feeling frazzled, rather than fulfilled. The great thing about holiday stress is that it’s predictable. Unlike many other types of negative stress, we encounter in life, we know when holiday stress will begin and end. And, we can make plans to reduce the amount of stress we experience and the negative impact it has on us. To best manage the holiday stress, get organized and start preparing for the holidays at the end of November or early December. Make “To Do” lists, use apps to record gifts purchased and keep track of your spending to holiday budget. Decide what traditions are most important to complete and eliminate other activities that only add to your seasonal stress.
2. Make a Schedule
Outlining your plans on a calendar or schedule can help ensure you are realistic with all the extra activities that occur during the holiday season. Start with your highest priorities, so if required you can eliminate less important activities. Also be sure to schedule your exercise. During the holiday season, it is tempting to find extra time by cutting out your exercise but regular exercise is a valuable tool to get you through the challenges of the holiday season. Exercise promotes the release of hormones that improve mood and reduce feelings of anxiety. And exercise contributes to healthier, more restful sleep.
3. Get Outside for some Winter Activities
The holidays are a great time to get outside and enjoy some winter activities such as snowshoeing, skiing, skating or even just building a snowman. It’s also great to get outside to get some much needed sunlight which is also helpful for your circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock and how your body regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Your circadian rhythm works best when you have adequate exposure to lightness and darkness and regular sleep habits.
4. Alcohol in Moderation
It’s easy to get carried away with eating and drinking during the festive season, but making mindful choices is important to maintaining your sleep health this holiday season. If you’re drinking rum and eggnog or any other fun alcoholic holiday beverage, it may help you fall asleep quickly, but alcoholic drinks will disturb your rest and diminishes the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol can also make an existing sleep disorder worse. If you have obstructive sleep apnea your symptoms can get worse from drinking alcohol. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the throat, allowing these muscles to more easily fall back into the airway during sleep and cause obstructions. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, alcohol can make you snore louder and disrupt your bed-partner’s sleep. To manage the season, drink one glass of water for every glass of holiday cheer. Drinking water will slow down your drinking and prevent you from getting dehydrated. Also try to avoid drinking approximately 2-3 hours before bedtime for best sleep results.
5. Power off Electronics
Technology has become such a big part of our every day. It allows all of us to stay more connected with friends and family – sharing our everyday details and holiday moments. Unfortunately, all that sharing via phones and tablets can mean that we get disconnected from family members even when in the same room. The holiday season, should be a time for connecting in person. If you have any hope of limiting technology over the holiday season, you’ll need to let your family know in advance and plan some activities to keep the family off the screens. Plan a games night, choose movies to watch together, bake some holiday cookies, complete a puzzle, read some books or volunteer for those less fortunate during the holiday season. It doesn’t really matter what activities you do, as long as they’re fun and tech-free!