Dealing with Holiday Stress

When you think of the holidays you might picture dazzling lights, yummy food, gifts, and time spent with friends. No matter what your holidays look like, they can also come with stress, depression, and anxiety.

Preventing Holiday Stress

Set Realistic Expectations

As much as we see picture-perfect holidays on TV, the truth is they don’t exist. Dinner may get burnt, people might be late, or they may not be able to come at all. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on the part of the holidays that matter most.

If everyone can’t get together, find another way to share memories. Instead of focusing on creating the perfect meal, enjoy the laughs that will be shared. When you focus on the good, instead of unachievable perfection, you avoid unwanted feelings of stress or anxiety.

Stick to a Budget

Many people feel pressured to spend more and more money on gifts this time of year. This pressure can push people to spend money they don’t have or stress about the quality and quantity of gifts they give.

Giving gifts should be a joyful experience. To avoid the stress of big bills, set a budget for yourself. Make a list of people you want to give gifts to and figure out what you can afford to give. Homemade treats like cookies are another option or do a gift exchange with friends that has a price limit.

Plan Ahead

The holidays can get busy. If you can, plan ahead for when you want to shop, spend time with friends, clean, or wrap gifts. Keep a calendar of any holiday events so they don’t sneak up on you.

When you plan ahead and break the holidays down into smaller, more manageable tasks you not only cut down on stress, but you can also feel better about getting things done!

Don’t Ditch Good Habits

‘Tis the season for busy days and treat-filled nights. It’s easy to toss exercise and healthy eating out the window in favor of movies and sugar cookies, but don’t lose sight of your good habits.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the season, but if you have lots of parties or gatherings, try to limit your sweet treats at each. If you get busier and feel like you can’t exercise as much, find other small ways to keep your body moving.

Handling Stress Head-On

Control Confrontation

When the whole family gets together, it can get heated. Differing opinions can lead to arguments or shouting, and suddenly the merry turns to madness. Take a minute to think before you speak. Will disagreeing accomplish anything?

Healthy discussions are never a bad idea, but we all have that one Aunt who just wants to fight. When it comes to confrontation, decide if its better to stir the pot, or stir a warm cup of hot chocolate.

Take a Breather

In some families the annual fight is inevitable. It happens. When things get tense, take a walk, or remove yourself from the center of things. Take three long, deep breaths and think about the parts of the holidays that bring you joy.

If family gatherings or events with friends make you anxious, that’s okay. Trust your instincts and take a step back from the crowded chaos when you need to.

Reach Out

Loneliness can hit extra hard around the holidays. This time of year, people can feel more depressed and struggle with feeling lonely as images of happy families hit their screens.

When those feelings set it, don’t be afraid to reach out to the people around you. Meet friends for a meal or celebrate holiday traditions together. If you find yourself overflowing with joy around the holidays, share that with the people around you.

Handling Holiday Stress

The holidays can bring up a mix of positive and negative emotions. It can cause feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression to feel stronger and make it hard to enjoy the holiday season.

Making a plan to deal with and prevent those feelings can put the holly jolly back in your holidays, but if this time of year becomes a struggle, reach out to your provider. They can work with you to see if there’s something else going on and help you find ways to combat the symptoms you’re dealing with. No matter what you need for your mental health, your provider is the first step to feeling better.

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