Managing Holiday Stress

Ah, the holidays!  For many of us ‘tis the season for family, friends, and fun.  Holiday parties and other events that bring joy and connectedness.  However, for others the holidays are a time of stress coupled with a desire to simply “get through it.”  Hosting parties, financial hardships, missing loved ones who are no longer here……there can be several causes for holiday stress.   Whatever the catalyst/s, the following are suggested coping strategies to more effectively manage holiday stress.

  1. Get back to the basics. —It might seem obvious, but with the busyness of the season we sometimes forget basic self-care.  Doing things like getting enough sleep, eating healthy and regularly, exercising, and using caffeine in moderation can reduce our susceptibility to stress.
  2. Know when to say no. –  Many times, we overextend ourselves by committing to too many things.  This can lead to feeling overwhelmed and resentful.  Set limits with yourself and others.
  3. – Overextending ourselves financially leads to anxiousness and worry.  Before going shopping for your holiday meal and gifts, identify what you can afford and then stick to your budget.
  4. Put it on paper. – Whether writing down events on a calendar or using lists to keep track of tasks or shopping needs, putting it on paper helps us to be more organized and less forgetful.
  5. Connect with others. — Nothing is wrong with needing a little “me” time. However, too much can lead to isolation.  Research shows that those who have strong, supportive relationships are usually more adept at managing stress effectively.  Whether to socialize and soak in the season or to ask for help and support, remember to connect with the positive people in your life.
  6. Do find time for yourself. – Although it’s important to connect with others, it’s equally important that we find time for ourselves. Time alone can help us to clear our mind catch our breath.  We are often busy doing for others during the holidays.  Remember to do for yourself too.
  7. Rightsized expectations. — Maintaining reasonable expectations helps us to not get our hopes too high only to be let down. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and not expecting it to be helps to lower stress.
  8. Seek professional help when needed. – There may come a time when no matter how hard we try to manage holiday stress, we simply can’t do it without the assistance of a professional. When feeling anxious or sad becomes persistent and you find it difficult to function at your usual capacity, help is available.  Know when it’s time to take the courageous step in seeking it out.