How to Reduce Your Holiday Stress
Do you find yourself focusing stressing and experiencing an increase of anxiety during the holiday season? Most people experience an increase in stress and anxiety surrounding the holiday season. The holiday season often brings unwelcome guests — stress, anxiety and depression. And it's no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands and expectations— parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few. There is also the expectations of being jolly, happy and finding the perfect gifts for our loved ones.
With some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.
Steps to Rethink Your Habits to Reduce Holiday Stress
1. Discuss what the holidays mean to you and your family. Talk about your values and consider alternatives to unbridled spending. Make the conversation about the “why” we celebrate and what it means to us—then
consider the “how’s”.
2. Set reasonable, manageable, and realistic boundaries, especially when you are spending on extended family. Your wallet might not be as full as others in your family, or you might be aiming your savings at
retirement, saving for college or other valuable goals. Take the blame and shame out of the holidays by having the crucial and perhaps uncomfortable conversations with other family members to set expectations that
are more reasonable to you. Yes, you might be moving out of your comfort zone, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Same old-same old might not work anymore, nor does it have to.
3. Meaningful activities do not need to revolve around spending dollars: Instead of making the holidays a time where breaking the bank becomes the norm, make it a time to do meaningful activities. Families who
volunteer at food banks or work on projects to help others—these activities can provide deep meaning and value to your life, perhaps more so than a “thing” can. The stories these volunteers tell after the holidays
are priceless, and the lessons they are providing their children have far reaching benefits about the meaning of helping make the world a better place.
4. Create your holiday budget in January. Take advantage of the post-holiday sales for items you know you’ll need next year. For example, wrapping paper, cards and other items you buy every year can be purchased at
terrific savings if you think ahead. In creating a holiday budget in January, you can divide the amount by twelve months and begin to set it aside monthly.
5. Focus on celebrating what is most important to you and your family. Whatever the meaning behind your holiday, put the emphasis on what you care about.
6. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You
can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
7. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship.
8. Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
9. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be
understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
10. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Try these alternatives:
Donate to a charity in someone's name.
Give homemade gifts.
Start a family gift exchange.
11. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list.
12. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.
13. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions:
Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
Get plenty of sleep.
Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
14. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your
mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Some options may include:
Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
Listening to soothing music.
Getting a massage.
Reading a book.
15. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to
face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.