It’s the holidays, which means family gatherings, gift giving, and decorating. These are all very nice things.
But for some, the holidays have stress written all over them. These festive few weeks can come with pressures to keep a beautiful home, buy expensive gifts, put on a happy face and generally meet high expectations from those around us.
These are not necessarily easy things to accomplish. And so, each year when the holidays roll around, we can react to these conditions in ways we find stressful.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of ways to handle holiday stress and enjoy the nicer aspects of the season.
That’s what we’re going to talk about in this blog post. Here are the 10 ways we can cope with and avoid holiday induced stress.
It may not be balmy summer weather out there, but you shouldn’t forget to get a bit of fresh air every once in a while. Taking a walk and clearing your head is a good stress coping strategy at any time of year, but it is more important during the winter months when we may not think of doing it all the time.
Try to do this when the sun is shining. This will help stop the onset of seasonal affective disorder, which is a legitimate medical condition referring to the phenomenon of dark, cloudy weather causing symptoms similar to depression.
Take a Personal Day
A lot of the stress associated with the holidays is brought on by trying to fit all of the responsibilities of the season into one’s already busy schedule.
If you can, take a day off during the week to do those things you would’ve had to squeeze in somewhere during your free time. We recommend getting your Christmas shopping done during the work week so you won’t have to deal with big weekend crowds. You can also take this time to decorate the house and any other holiday related errands that need doing.
If you’re selflessly trying to please everyone around the holidays, don’t forget to think about yourself as well. If you’re out shopping for everyone’s gifts, don’t think of it as selfish to pick something up that you enjoy as well. It can be as small as a scented candle or a fancy bar of soap, but it will go a long way to keeping you sane.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Many of us have it in our heads that we have to make the holidays perfect for everybody. The visitation of family members puts pressure on us to impress everyone around the holidays whether this comes in the form of accomplishments or making a gorgeous dinner.
Just remember that no one is perfect and you’re probably your own worst critic. Whenever you find yourself stressed that everything isn’t going exactly as you planned, keep in mind that there isn’t really all that much riding on this and that making an honest effort is all anyone can ask.
Pair Down Your To-Do List
Do you really have to make a beautiful centre piece, mail out 100 cards, cook a 5 star meal, and learn how to figure skate? Probably not.
If you’re finding yourself overwhelmed, take a look at what you have set out for yourself and cross something inconsequential off the list.
Talk About It
It’s easy to think we’re alone when we feel stressed around the holidays. Everyone has their best face on and no one seems to be burning out. But that’s simply not reality. The holidays are some of the most stressful days of the year and this affects everyone to some extent (except maybe children).
Talk to some close family members about how you’re feeling and you’ll find that everyone can relate in one way or another. This will help you fight feelings of isolation and will also help you lower your stress causing self expectations.
Have a Night Out
Instead of having all of the family dinners at home, do one at a restaurant. Now you can take the pressure off of your cooking ability.
This has the added advantage of being in a public place, which has the effect of reducing angry or unruly behaviour, if that’s something your family is known for.
Do a Good Deed
Research shows that giving gifts and doing good in the community directly results in greater levels of happiness and fulfilment. Of course, there is no better time to do this than the holidays.
This is an especially important suggestion for those who are spending the holidays away from friends and family. Reaching out into the community and helping others is a great way to fight feelings of loneliness.
Go Off Screens Before Bed
This is good advice all year round, but it is especially important around the holidays when everyone’s social calendar fills up.
If you find yourself checking your phone every five minutes, you may want to consciously stop yourself and focus on other things. Research shows that using electronic devices in the two hours before bed, results in a worse night’s sleep, which will not help matters where stress is concerned.
Furthermore, checking Facebook and other social media can result in negative feelings, especially if many of your friends are doing things like going on lavish vacations and other things you wish you were a part of.
Say No to People
Around the holidays you are going to get a lot of requests from others. Can you come to my kids’ Christmas concert? Can you fill in for me at the office? Can you make a banner for the Christmas party?
As good (and good for you) as it is to help people out and make them happy, do not do this at great expense to you. If you are over-scheduled as it is, do not be afraid to simply tell people you don’t have the time.
If they are reasonable people, they will understand. And if they aren’t, maybe you shouldn’t be spending so much time with them.