One of the best ways to continue living a balanced lifestyle is to reduce stress levels, especially during the holidays. Stress does not only ruin your holidays, but it's also bad for your health. Between shopping, baking, cleaning, and entertaining, we sometimes forget that the holidays are supposed to be a fun, relaxing time spent with family and friends. When stress reaches it's top peak, it can be hard to gather and regroup. Here are some practical tips to help you get through the holidays, stress free:
1. Acknowledge your feelings- Just because it is holiday season, that does not mean you have to be jolly all the time. If you have lost a family member or are unable to be with loved ones this holiday, it is okay to feel sad and cry. Acknowledging how you are feeling and accepting it can make the hard times a little more bearable.
2. Reach out- If you are feeling lonely, reach out to your community. Volunteering is a great way to pass time while feeling better about yourself and broadening friendships amongst your community.
3. Be realistic- As years go on and people grow older, it is hard to make holidays perfect and the same as last year. Although traditions are important, there is always room for change. If family members are unable to make it this year, reach out and celebrate in other was to continue the holiday festivities.
4. Set aside differences- Try to make the most out of the time you have to spend with people. Accept family and friends for who they are and pick a different time to talk about your problems. Remember that other people are suffering from holiday stress as well.
5. Stick to a budget- Holidays are not about who spent the most money. Before you begin shopping, decide on a realistic budget and stick to it. Use techniques such as homemade gifts or family gift exchanges to keep the cost low.
6. Plan ahead- Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, and visiting friends. Plan out events first then make lists of what you need to avoid last minute scrambling. Reach out to friends and plan ahead for party prep and clean up. Through all the madness, don't forget to save time for yourself.
7. Learn to say no- Saying yes to every event will only lead to more stress. Friends and family members will understand if you can't participate in everything. If you start to feel overwhelmed, prioritize and take something off of your list.
8. Don't abandon healthy habits- Eating healthy, exercising, and appropriate amounts of sleeping are all still important even during the holidays. It's easy to get caught up in the sweets every now and then, but don't forget to take care of yourself.
9. Take a breather- Spending just 15 minutes alone without any distractions can make all the difference. Go for a walk, listen to music, or read a book are some healthy ways to distract yourself and help with self care.
10. Seek professional help as needed- 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.
Effects of too much stress or chronic stress can exacerbate current problems or create more problems in life. The healthier your family is, the less difficult holidays are and the more enjoyable the holidays are. The more dysfunctional your family, the more important it is to have a survival plan. Use these tips to not only get through the holidays, but to get through everyday.
If you have questions about stress and how it can affect you or your family's health or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.
Written by Allison Parker and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD
Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff. “Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 Sept. 2017.