The holiday season is full of fun, nostalgia, merriment, and -- let's face it -- stress. Being pregnant during this time can bring added excitement -- and also more stress. (Do you see a pattern here? Where's there's excitement, there's likely to be stress!) And we are learning, more and more, the importance and health benefits of lowered stress during pregnancy. So if you didn't have enough to be stressed over, now you can stress out over reducing your stress!
But it doesn't have to be this way -- both in pregnancy generally, and the holidays in particular. Take a look at some of the ways you can reduce your anxiety, workload, and stress this holiday season, and ultimately improve your mental and physical health during this time in your pregnancy. Pregnancy demands more of your physical energy (you are growing new life every minute of every day!) and can leave you feeling depleted, over-tired, and under-motivated. Set yourself up with extra support and less demands this year -- your January pregnant self will thank you!
Buy less. Gift giving is fun, but it becomes a chore -- and stressful -- when it is overdone, feels like an expectation, and puts a strain on your finances and mental health. Determine this year -- in advance -- what you are willing to give, what you are able to give, and what you want to give. If it's a deviation from years' passed, inform friends and family that you're making a change this season. Most will understand without needing an explanation, and those who don't will likely get over it eventually.
Plan, prepare, and make lists. The more you can do to organize and make your holiday season more efficient, the less likely you'll run into a constant state of rushing and last-minuteness. Use your smart phone to make lists, set reminders, and update your calendar. Work into your planning the time it takes to and deadlines for shopping in-person, shipping time, meal prepping, holiday cards (if that's part of your tradition), and more.
Delegate. There is always something on your list that can be handed off. Whether you involve your partner more than usual this year, take a friend up on her offer to help out, or hire a personal shopping assistant -- get help and don't feel guilty for asking!
Relish in the little things you actually enjoy. Do you have a knack for gift wrapping better than Martha Stewart? Are you an expert at finding just the right gift for people? Enjoy those little things that bring as much joy to you as they do to your recipients.
Ask for help. If you're in charge of hosting friends and family for a gathering, ASK FOR HELP. Whether pregnant or not, planning a big social function is a lot of work to do alone. Whether you involve those closest to you or hire out help (think cleaning service, catering, purchasing store-bought pies from your favorite bakery instead of making them yourself), save yourself time and effort by asking for help and delegating tasks.
Change up the tradition. Do you usually host a party for 40 of your closest friends every year in December? Go out for dinner this year instead! Or, suggest attending a holiday concert or botanical garden outing together.
Be an attendee instead of host. Take a rain check on hosting the festivities this year -- let others invite you this year. You may miss being the host, but you'll be thankful for the respite.
Schedule time for you. Be proactive and intentional about scheduling downtime. Whether it's a nap, time to read your favorite magazine, or a weekly prenatal exercise class, it's important to make time just for you.
Volunteer. If your energy permits, find ways to actively (or passively -- like making donations) give back to others less fortunate this season. Doing so is a good way to remind yourself of what's most important during the season.
Choose stress-busting activities. Yoga, meditation, exercise, time spent with a good friend, reading, hobbies like knitting or crafting, coloring.... just a few of the many ways you can engage in non-holiday related, stress-reducing activities.