‘Tis the season to be jolly indeed. However, it’s also the season when we are overwhelmed with preparing feasts, buying gifts, spending money, organizing everything, and having just a short time-out before the work/school-related craziness begins again.
A Healthline survey showed that approximately 60 percent of people experience holiday stress. In almost half of the cases, the most likely source of stress is financial difficulties. Other stressors include scheduling, shopping for gifts, and unhealthy eating.
Whichever your stressors during this season, here are a few tips that will help you alleviate holiday stress and mitigate its effects.
Eliminate Superfluous Activities
Write down everything you think you need to do, one task at a time. Consider every task thoroughly. Is it really something you must do? Can you live without it? Eliminate all of the things that are not essential or that you think you can’t accomplish. For example, maybe it’s not necessary to visit your cousins or to send Christmas cards (we live in the age of digital communication, and it seems that everyone is used to it already). You will feel lighter as soon as your list becomes free of superfluous tasks.
Put Your Plans on Paper
Writing down your plans along with the things you need to do to accomplish them and a schedule you need to comply with will make it easier for you to be realistic and on time. This can eliminate a lot of stress that comes with forgetting things (e.g., Christmas shopping), being late with your chores, etc.
De-stress as a Family
The anxiety of one family member will probably impact the rest of the household. Communicate your problems and stressors as a family, and see how you can resolve them. And don’t think that feeling stressed is limited to adults only.
While you might be frazzled because of financial problems or work-related issues, your kids can be worried about their social relationships, grades, or (especially) the exam period. See how you can relieve exam stress in children or help them understand changes they are going through that might be affecting their relationships or self-esteem.
Find Just the Right Dose of Togetherness
The holidays are the time when families gather. The entire family is together at home for days at a time, and even the extended family might come to visit. This is a risk for “togetherness overdose” because it disrupts the balance you usually have. And that can often lead to ugly conflicts. Make sure everyone gets some alone time and the space they need to feel unburdened.
All Things in Moderation
Overeating, overdrinking, and overspending are the three O’s of holidays that can turn into oh-oh’s. Most people attend several holiday parties and feasts. These usually include a lot of delicious meals, sweets, drinks, and gift-giving.
The consequences can be quite stressful, as they include hangovers, weight gain (and a subsequent loss of self-esteem), financial problems, health deterioration, and more. Try to find moderation in these things. If you can’t find strength inside yourself, find an accountability buddy to help you maintain balance. That might be your partner, family member, or friend.
If you’re asking yourself whether you should binge on holiday movies or go to sleep, choose sleep. Sleep deprivation makes your brain’s emotional centers overactive, which can trigger stress and increase anxiety levels. On the other hand, getting enough sleep boosts your immune system, helping you get through the winter healthy and fit.
Practicing mindfulness at all times will help you feel more balanced and calm throughout the year. But during the holiday season, the practice becomes particularly important and beneficial. Here are some tips on how to apply mindfulness in everyday situations:
- Breathing exercises: Breathing helps you regulate your emotions and activates the calming response in your body.
- Be mindful of your emotions: We think about others a lot during the holiday season. But at the same time, it’s important to maintain an attitude of self-compassion and to be aware of your emotions. Respect what you are feeling and be kind to yourself.
- Be connected: Foster a genuine connection with the people around you – your friends, your partner, and your family.
- Practice gratitude: Make a list of all the things you are grateful for and read them every morning when you wake up and every evening before you go to bed.
The holiday season is packed with emotions. Some of them make us feel warm and tingly. Others are harder to swallow. These tips should help you minimize the effects of the negative stuff and enjoy all the season has to offer.