Did you know in Great Britain the word “holiday” has the same meaning as vacation? Many Americans would find this comparison laughable. For us, the holidays often come with very long “to-do” lists, which can leave us feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Your daily schedule becomes even busier with preparations and celebrations. Believe it or not, nearly a quarter of Americans reported feeling “extreme stress” come holiday time, according to a poll by the American Psychological Association.
For some of us, the holidays can be depressing time, when we get a more serious case of the “holiday blues.” Feelings of sadness, loneliness and anger can intensify when contrasted with the joy expected of the holidays. The bottom line is, the “most wonderful time of the year” isn’t always so jolly.
It’s crucial to reframe your thinking about the holidays so you maintain optimal wellness into the New Year. Instead of dreading the stress ahead, try to view the holidays as an opportunity to enhance your psychological wellbeing. Here are few helpful suggestions you can use to lessen holiday stress and feel more optimistic about the season!
In order to prevent holiday stress, keep this question in mind: Are your expectations for the holidays realistic? Make a list of what you expect from yourself and your family during the holidays. Hidden within these expectations you might find your potential holiday stressors — the things specific to you that can cause stress. Remember, no Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or other holiday celebration is perfect. Instead of feeling discouraged when something doesn’t go as planned, view these inevitable missteps as opportunities to exercise your flexibility and resilience.
Take Time For Yourself: There’s so much happening during this time of year and you may feel pressured to take on too much at one time. As you are pulled in many directions, keep in mind that you are only one person and can’t physically or mentally do it all. Self-care is the best thing to focus on. Go for a walk, get a massage, listen to your favorite music or read a book. Whatever gives you joy, do that to recharge your batteries. Remember: others will benefit when you’re feeling less stressed!
Know Your Spending Limit and Remember What’s Important: Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. It’s so important to set a budget and stick to it! Don’t spend more than you planned. If the budget is tight for you this year, give a personal gift instead. You can show love with a simple, inexpensive gift. Use words in a card to express how important people are to you or create a photo collage. Always be mindful of what’s REALLY important. The barrage of holiday advertising can make you forget what the holiday season is really about -, spending quality time with loved ones and being grateful for what you have.
Keep Calm and Carry On: Being in close quarters with some of your family members for long periods of time can be stressful in itself. Different personalities, with opposite opinions can often be too much to handle. If you let every remark get under your skin, you will be miserable and stressed the entire time. Keep calm and carry on during your festivities with a smile on your face. Don’t let the actions or words of others rob you of your joy!
Don't isolate: If you're feeling left out, then get out of the house and find some way to join in. There are hundreds of places you can go to hear music, enjoy the sights or help those less fortunate.
Watch your diet and remember to exercise: It's normal to eat more during the holidays, but be aware of how certain foods effect your mood. If you eat fats and sweets, you will have less energy, which can make you feel more stressed and run down. It can be very helpful to take a walk before and/or after a big holiday meal.
May the holidays bring you all the love and joy they can, and may the true meaning of the season touch your heart. We hope you can maintain your wellness during this season thanks to these helpful tips!