The holiday season, though filed with joy and love, can also be riddled with stress. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to pressure, but too much of it can cause harmful anxiety and depression. In order to put the “happy” back in the holiday season, it’s important that you put together a game plan for how to combat stress. This will help minimize the stress that comes with the holidays, allowing you to enjoy yourself and the company of your loved ones even more.
- Take frequent breaks. Remember to make some time for yourself. Even spending 15 minutes alone distraction-free can mean the difference between an overwhelming day and a manageable one. Listening to soothing music, getting a massage, reading a book or taking a walk are all great options.
- Listen to your feelings. The holidays aren’t always a happy time for everyone. If you’ve recently lost a loved one or are unable to see your relatives, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. Take time to cry and express yourself without guilt—you can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Be flexible. Don’t fall into the trap of believing the holidays need to be perfect or just like last year. Your family traditions and rituals will naturally evolve as you all change and grow. Embrace it by choosing a few to hold on to and staying open to creating new ones.
- Find Community. If you find yourself feeling lonely and isolated, finding a sense of community can be the perfect remedy. Look out for community, religious or other social events around your neighborhood that can offer you support and companionship. Volunteering during the season can also help lift your spirits, create new friendships and spread holiday cheer.
- Stick to a budget. Holiday overspending and credit card debt don’t have to be your future. Decide how much you can afford to spend before you go gift and food shopping and stick to it. To cut back on spending, consider donating to a charity in someone else’s name, giving homemade gifts, or starting a family gift exchange.
- Plan ahead. Avoid last minute scrambling to pick up forgotten meal ingredients by setting aside specific days for specific tasks. Set up a day for shopping, baking, visiting friends, etc. in order to keep your schedule manageable. Planning your menus ahead of time and then making your shopping list can also keep last minute shopping to a minimum.
- Say no. Committing yourself to too many things can leave you feeling overwhelmed and resentful. Saying no to some requests will allow you to make time for yourself or for other needed tasks. Your friends and coworkers will understand if you can’t participate in every activity. If it’s not possible to say no, remove something else from your schedule to make up for lost time.
- Look for the positives. Staying with family members for an extended period of time can easily cause tension. It’s important to accept your family members and friends as they are, regardless of whether they live up to your expectations. Extend grace to others if they get upset when something doesn’t go right—it might just be their reaction to feeling the same holiday stress you are.
- Seek professional help. If the feelings of sadness, anxiety or insomnia persist, it may be time to seek professional help. Talk to a doctor or mental health professional if you have continuous feelings of irritability, hopelessness, depression and feel unable to face your daily tasks. They can help you develop coping strategies to help you feel better.
- Get moving. Don’t let the holidays stop you from living a healthier lifestyle. Instead of letting them become a “free-for-all”, try to avoid overindulgence, which only lead to stress and guilt. Getting plenty of sleep, creating time to exercise, and having a healthy snack before holiday parties can help you continue creating healthy habits.
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