You love the holidays, but probably hate the stress that can come along with them. Spending time with family and friends, cooking and eating holiday foods, parties, and shopping for just the right gift are good times. However, the good times can also be taxing. Those things that make the holiday exciting can overwhelm you with tension, especially as you try to fit them in along with other obligations.
When you are under stress, it can take the joy out of all that the holidays represent, making ourselves and those around us miserable. However, with a few stress prevention strategies, you can have an enjoyable season.
Frame your holidays around what is realistic. Often, especially women, have an idealized view of what the holidays are to look like. Commercials and advertising that show perfect people having perfect holidays can trick you into thinking these idealized perceptions are real. So, you run yourself down to the ground mentally, emotionally, and physically to get things “just right.” Instead of a perfect holiday aim for a realistic one.
Pace yourself. Create a mindset that approaches the holiday in a relaxed manner. Knowing what does and doesn’t get done, doesn’t matter as much as being with family and friends. Even when it comes to traditions, it’s okay to create new traditions or skip them one year.
Check in with your feeling. Stress, depression, sadness, and other negative emotions can sneak up on you when you’re busy. So, every few days step back and check in with how you are feeling. Tightness in the muscles, clenched jaws, digestions issues, and headaches are clues you are under stress. If you notice stress creeping into your body, ask yourself what is causing it and what actions you can take to reduce it.
Make lists and plans. Trying to keep everything you need to get done or want to do in your head is hard. Lists can reduce anxiety. Plan what days you will cook, bake, and shop. Also, plan your menus. Lists can help in these ways:
- Prioritize responsibilities
- Identify what is essential from the trivial
- Create a plan of action
- Organize inner thoughts
- Avoid procrastination
- Keep you on task
Take time for yourself. While it’s enjoyable and rewarding to do for others during this time of year, it’s also important to take care of yourself. If you get run down and sick, you won’t be able to take care of those you love. Just a few minutes for yourself can help to refresh you.
Soaking in a hot tub, taking a nap, reading a magazine, treating yourself to a special drink at the coffee shop, or even buying yourself a gift are just a few ways you can take time for yourself.
Keep family relationships in perspective. Just as the holidays can be stressful on you, they may also be hard on family and friends. It will be easier on you if you accept them for who they are. The holidays are not the time to try to change them or bring up grievances. Set accusations aside for the time being. It’s also healthy to avoid being around toxic people.
Learn to say no. One of the surest ways to create stress and resentment during the holidays is to say yes when you really want to say no. It’s okay to decline invitations and participation in activities when you’re not up to it or your already scheduled. Remember to prioritize what is important to you.
Make a budget and stick to it. Many people try to buy happiness during the holidays spending what they can’t afford on food, entertainment, and gifts. It can create stress and depression. You can try other options such as potluck get-togethers, cookie exchanges, homemade gifts, or family gift exchanges.
Here are a few other suggestions to help make holidays less stressful:
- Get plenty of sleep
- Eat healthily
- Keep to your normal routines
- Exercise regularly
- Get a massage
With a few mindful strategies, you can take control of the holidays instead of letting the holidays take control of you.
- Making the most of the holiday season. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-season.aspx.
- Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping (September 16, 2017). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544.