Holiday Stress Reduction 101
The holidays come with a lot of activities and emotions (both positive and negative) along with a depletion of energy for some. Sure, it’s a fun time where you expect to enjoy wining and dining with the people you love most, but this doesn’t take away the fact that a lot of effort (and emotions) go into these activities.
Meeting with family and friends that you haven’t seen in a long while, cooking, baking, shopping, cleaning, traveling, it all becomes too much really fast, causing stress, anxiety, depression, and many other mental challenges to creep in. It doesn’t have to be like this. Or, you may have lost a loved one, are alone, or don’t celebrate the holidays and can feel isolated, sad and even resentful. Here are some tips to survive the next month or so.
Stress reduction tips for the holidays
- Be realistic: Try not to set unrealistic standards for yourself during the holidays. Doing this puts a lot of pressure on you to create the perfect holiday time for you and your loved ones. Know your limits and work within them. If old family traditions no longer serve you, it’s not compulsory to go through with them. Create new ones and enjoy the time with your family. If family interactions are typically tense, strained, or toxic, don’t expect this to magically disappear because it’s the holiday season. Don’t set yourself up. Make sure you have some alone time and practice self-care.
- Acknowledge your feelings: Don’t feel pressured to put on a show of happiness if you’re not feeling so great. If you feel the need to cry, acknowledge your emotions and go ahead and cry. Feeling overwhelmed during the holidays is normal, and taking some time to let out those emotions will do you a world of good. You don’t have to pretend to be joyful just because it’s the holidays.
- Plan ahead: Creating a good holiday plan can help you make it through the holidays with less stress. Plan days for specific activities like cleaning, shopping, or baking. However, don’t create rigid plans. Allowing flexibility in your plans leaves room for adjustments if necessary, so you don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned. Most important, don’t neglect self-care.
- Split up the tasks: Because it’s the holidays doesn’t make you a superhero, so don’t try to take on more than you can handle. Work with your family and friends to take on different holiday tasks. It not only makes it fun, but it takes a world of stress off you. Share the activities or to-do list with your loved ones so that everyone lends a helping hand. Things get done faster, and more easily.
- Learn to say NO: Saying YES when all you want to do is say NO to an invitation, activity, hangout, cookfest, and other holiday activities can have you feeling drained and overwhelmed quickly. You won’t enjoy your time there because you feel forced to be there, and uninterested too. Creating boundaries during the holidays is important for your mental health. Your family and friends will understand if you can’t make every activity, so decline if you’re not feeling up to it. Saying no is sometimes a part of self-care.
It’s easy to get swallowed up in the holiday festivities, so intentionally work to ensure that you have your stressors under control. I repeat, now is the time to keep going with self-care and healthy habits you’ve developed during the year. Get the theme here? Also, if you already see a therapist, try not to miss your sessions, as they can help you navigate through these stressful times.