Avoiding Holiday Stress
December 12, 2019
I’m uninviting several unwanted guests to my house this year over the holiday season. They are Stress and Anxiety. We tend to see them more around the holidays because the holidays tend to put unnecessary and sometimes unrealistic goals or outcomes on us. Going to parties, shopping, cooking and baking, cleaning and hosting can be overwhelming. Being realistic with expectations, planning ahead and seeking support/help if needed can make the holidays much more pleasant for you, your family and your friends. There are many safe and healthy ways of dealing with Stress and Anxiety around the holidays. Try to deal with issues that will cause Stress and Anxiety before they reach their limits. Here are some tips for preventing Stress and Anxiety from welcoming themselves into your life over the holidays.
1. Don’t hide your feelings. Realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief around the holidays. You may have lost a loved one or maybe a loved one cannot make it home for the holiday. It’s OK to express your feelings. Crying is a great release. Don’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
2. Reach out. There is no need to be lonely over the holidays. Seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time is a good way to lift your spirits, meet new people and maybe make someone else’s holiday special.
3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. This holiday doesn’t have to be better than last year. Families change and grow and with that traditions and rituals can change as well. Choose a few to hold on to and be open to creating new traditions. Remember, it’s not a tradition until somebody starts it.
4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. Accept that dysfunction is a part of every family. There may be a lot of reasons to be upset with a family member, but is a holiday dinner the time to discuss it? DON’T DISCUSS POLITICS. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. Be understanding if others get upset or distressed. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday Stress and anxiety, too, and they probably didn’t read this article.
5. Stick to your budgets. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to it!! Don’t try to buy happiness for someone else and leave yourself in a financial bind. Let them know you got them one special gift, from the heart, and it will mean more to them.
6. Plan ahead. By setting specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities, you can decrease the chaos of too much to do in too little time. Plan your menus and make your shopping list before you go to the stores. 30 minutes spent planning can make a big difference in time wasted this holiday season.
7. Here’s a biggie; learn to say NO. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and co-workers will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. It may not be possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime. Know that you will have to revamp your schedule and stick to it.
8. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress, guilt and pant size. Imagine how it will feel coming out of the holiday season with no weight gain? Try to get plenty of sleep, maintain or incorporate exercise into each day and have healthy snacks so you don’t go overboard on the bad stuff.
9. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, every day, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces Stress and Anxiety by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and finding your inner peace. Try taking a walk, meditating, listening to music, reading or getting a holiday massage.
10. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently stressed or anxious. This can manifest as physical complaints, being unable to sleep or sleeping too much, being irritable, and unable to face routine commitments. Let someone know how you are feeling and see if maybe they can help with some of your concerns.
YOU ARE IN CHARGE!!
Don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the Stress and Anxiety that can show up unexpectedly during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers. Be aware of financial limitations or personal demands. Suppressing them before they lead to a meltdown will make all the difference. Learn to say NO! With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can have an enjoyable holiday season and keep Stress and Anxiety out of your life.