With great joy comes great… depression? Anxiety? Stress? Such is the paradox of the holiday season. Don’t fret, we are all in this together — and we’ve compiled our top tips to set you up for holiday success.
If you’re one of the 51 million Americans traveling during Thanksgiving, the most notoriously busy season for airports across the country, you’ll need some strategies for navigating the mob scene without sacrificing your sanity (or health!). Read on for our ultimate travel survival tips.
Prep like a pro
- Outsmart yourself. When you add your flight to your calendar, set the start time for an hour earlier than it’s scheduled to depart. The goal is to trick yourself into leaving an hour earlier, bestowing upon you the gift of an extra hour to combat long security lines, traffic delays and holiday crowds.
- Stay organized. Packing cubes are the best way to keep your bag tidy and contained all trip long. These are a must if you’ll be forced to live out of your suitcase for any amount of time.
- Download your entertainment. There’s nothing worse than a long flight without entertainment. Don’t count on unreliable airport WIFI to handle your download needs (it will almost certainly let you down) — download your content at home so you’re set for takeoff.
- Plan your outfit. Simon Doonan, Creative Director at Barneys New York, told Travel + Leisure his number one tip is to overdress. “People wearing impressive clothes are treated better.”
- Prioritize hydration. A three hour flight can shed up to 1.5 liters of water from the body. Not only does that mean you should up your water intake, but also try to avoid caffeine and alcohol while flying.
- Red eye the right way. Choose a natural sleep aid that won’t give you a sleep hangover. Try Liveli Sleep Peacefulli or Natural Vitality Calm drink mix on your next night flight.
- Be a savvy snacker. Airports are notorious for unhealthy fare at extreme mark-ups. Save your money (and skip the lines) by bringing food you love from home.
EAT, DRINK AND BE... BLOATED?
When it comes to indulging this holiday season, the only thing that matters is that you do it on your own terms. Whether that’s giving yourself permission to treat yourself to everything delicious that comes your way, or resisting pressure from family members to eat foods that don’t make you feel good, the goal is to leave feeling satisfied and regret-free.
- Make a game plan. Indulging (or not) can feel empowering when it’s on your own terms. Whether that’s allowing yourself to enjoy without limits (and free of shame and guilt), or asserting healthy boundaries when family members attempt to impose their eating habits onto you, it helps to identify where your limits are in advance so you have a roadmap when you’re faced with these choices.
- Detox diaries. If all that indulging has you feeling not so great the next day, digestive enzymes can help break down food and get things moving again. If it’s a hangover you’re battling, activated charcoal will help you feel like new again in no time.
- Get moving. Whether it’s a walk around your neighborhood or jumping jacks in front of the TV, a little movement has major benefits for your mind and your mood.
Look good, feel good. Wear something you love. Whether it’s new, borrowed or rented, a well-fitting ensemble that makes you feel gorgeous has the power to completely change your mood.
The pressure to feel joyful on the holidays is omnipresent and often times in stark contrast to our actual lived experience. It’s easy to feel like everyone is having a Hallmark-worthy holiday, but in reality, for many people, the holidays can be one of the most emotionally difficult times of the year. Whether your doldrums are caused by gloomy weather or family trauma, remember you are not alone, this too shall pass, and if all else fails, you’ll collect good content for your future memoir.
- Identify your triggers. Are you faced with snide remarks about your appearance every time you reach for a second helping of dessert? Are radical, opposing political beliefs your family’s favorite dinner time topic? Instead of hoping these unfortunate exchanges won’t happen, plan for them and make a mental plan of attack. This might look like excusing yourself for a walk around the block, downshifting into the role of “observer” rather than “participant,” or pretending you’re filming a reality TV show. The more prepared you are, the less likely you are to get caught in friendly fire.
- Return to gratitude. Research shows people who regularly practice gratitude experience more positive emotions, feel more alive, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, and even have stronger immune systems. Whispering “thanks” to the piece of pie on your plate totally counts.
- Find solace in community. Family dysfunction is the universal thread that connects us all. Don’t just take our word for it:
“I think a dysfunctional family is any family with more than one person in it.” -Mary Karr
“Families are about love overcoming emotional torture.” -Matt Groening
“Obviously, if I was serious about having a relationship with someone long-term, the last people I would introduce him to would be my family.” -Chelsea Handler
How do you deal with holiday anxiety? Leave us your tips and feedback in the comments below!