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How rituals can help you have a stress-less holiday season

Nov 11, 2020

Cultivating rituals and drawing boundaries can actually help you have a stress-less holiday season and enjoy these moments all the more!

I truly love Christmas + the holidays and to be honest, it’s never been all that stressful for me! Maybe because we have lived overseas our entire marriage until this year or maybe because I have great memories of the holidays growing up…but I also don’t remember my parents packing our schedule too full!

Relying on your daily rituals and habits will help you thrive this holiday season, and I might add keep you mentally and physically healthy too!

Rituals are simply little intentional moments that keep you calm and productive and help you navigate the stressors of life with more grace. Rituals will only ADD to your life and allow you to enjoy this festive season more!

I’ll start with a quote from one of my favorite authors:

“If you feel the weight of everything on your shoulders, this is also true: it does not make you weak to lay it down for the night and come back to it when you need to. Pace yourself through this.” – Morgan Harper Nichols

Remember your worth as a human is not found in doing but rather by being you!

How Rituals Can Help You Have a Stress-less Holiday Season

Make a short list of ‘non-negotiables’ for the season

I encourage you to start now by making two separate lists—make a cozy drink, sit down with your spouse, partner or family and create your lists together.

  1. A *very* short list of ‘non-negotiables’
  2. A list of ‘wishes’

Your non-negotiable list should be the things you absolutely NEED + WANT to get done. Think of these items as if all else failed you would still be “successful” and content. Your list does not need to be what society or Pinterest says it has to be…in fact, there have been years where I very intentionally did not send Christmas cards or even gift much due to moving internationally and I was totally ok with that!

Here’s a few of my non-negotiable plans this season:

  • Purchase Christmas books for Remington
  • Schedule family photo session (got this one done early!)
  • Purchase tickets for Christmas ballet performance (been looking forward to this for a year!)
  • Plan cookie decorating afternoon + purchase all supplies early in November
  • Lots of cozy family time around the fire watching Christmas movies
  • Decorate tree as a family!
  • Organize Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes for children around the world
  • Find someone in our community or sphere of influence in need and bless them

Remember, keep it short so that you won’t be disappointed or feel guilty when plans change!

Make a list of ‘wishes’ for the season

This can be a longer list of personal or family wishes. What are traditions or memories you would like to make? Who would you liked to have over for dinner or a cookie party? What about gifts—what is your gifting going to look like this season? Remember, it’s ok to say no and draw boundaries, you do not have to gift to everyone if that is not realistic for you!

How can you give back to those who are lonely or in need? What would that realistically look like for you?

Are you sending out Christmas cards this year? If so what is your plan for accomplishing that in a timely and not stressful way?

What recipes would you like to make this season? Start making a list now—I have a note on my phone and a saved folder on Instagram too! Plan ahead by purchasing staple ingredients for baking or holiday meals you know you will use!

Maybe you have always wanted to go to a performance or an outdoor ice skating rink. Include anything and everything on your wishlist knowing that this is just a wishlist for the season! Then you can start plugging things into your calendar so you don’t overwhelm your schedule!

Intentionally set aside a few margin days

It’s so easy to say yes to everything, but remember just because something is good does not mean it is right for you in this season! You know I’m a big fan of saying ‘no’ and having a margin day—a day with no plans and no commitments. Often these are the days that foster the best memories and the most tasty eats too!

Stress, lack of sleep and overcommitment can play a huge role in decreasing our immune system and increasing anxiety—it’s often why we tend to get sick during the holiday season…that and extra sugar + alcohol!

Take the time early in the season to mark off (yes literally!) a few days on your calendar—talk about this with your family too! Set aside these times for rest, spontaneity and of course Christmas movies!

Have a wind-down or transition ritual

While the holiday season can be truly magical it can also be stressful—both for reasons IN your control and reasons OUT of your control. It’s ok to admit that it is hard being around _____ person during this season. Or maybe you have put too much pressure on yourself to perform and do when really this season is about celebration and the gift of life!

I encourage you to have a word or phrase you could say to your spouse or partner when you are truly overwhelmed and need to leave or have a change of scenery. You could say the word and dismiss your self early from a party or even use it in your home as an alert “I’m in over my head, help!” Have someone you love and trust keep you accountable and do the same for them!

Also create a wind-down ritual—maybe this is your evening sleep ritual or something you do when you have to transition between events. 

Other wind-down or transition rituals:

  • blast or dance to your favorite song
  • 5 minute powernap
  • 10 deep breaths in and out
  • a short walk alone
  • making your favorite beverage
  • driving around looking at lights (great one for parents with littles!)
  • saying affirmations
  • come up with a ‘red-flag’ alert word or phrase as a family

For me personally it’s alone time—even as hard as that is as a mother, I know I need it! Even if it’s just a couple of minutes, I make sure that this is a priority for me as I know my health and my family will suffer if I don’t!

Intentionally take care of yourself

This may sound SO cliche but it’s SO true and this is where the magic of rituals comes to play! 

Rituals create calm amidst the chaos—rituals are intentional moments not a last resort before burn out. If you intentionally cultivate rituals NOW they will become lifelong habits and help you through more busy seasons like the holidays.

The ritual of good sleep, taking your vitamins, doing a 15 minute power clean up so the housework doesn’t become overwhelming, taking time away from your phone + social media…all of these rituals will help you flourish each day, no matter the season!

Start small and make a list of 3 rituals you want to cultivate today. That way when the stress comes, you will be able to ride it out with a bit more grace, calm and gumption!

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