5 Tips to Stay Stress-free During the Holidays.
The holiday season can be a pretty brutal time of the year. At every corner, there seems to be a lot to do. Everyone – from your parents to your littlest sibling appears to be rushing, stressing, preparing, planning, scheduling, and juggling last-minute tasks and responsibilities.
With all the busyness, it’s no wonder some people end up feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, guilty or angry. Some might even end up in tears.
However, the most important thing to remember is that the holiday season is supposed to be a fun occasion. You need to be able to take care of yourself. Otherwise, you will become exhausted and your resilience will deteriorate.
Additional the holiday stress can also aggravate pre-existing symptoms of depression and anxiety. So without further ado, here are some tips for staying stress-free during the holidays. These ideas aren’t groundbreaking, but they’re definitely worth reiterating.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
As mention before, the holiday season (while fun), can bring about an undue amount of stress. Even if you can’t completely avoid it, learning how to properly manage stress will do you a world of good. The first step to help yourself stay stress-free during the holidays is to first acknowledge the fact that you’re feeling stressed out in the first place.
Some of you might be wondering how acknowledging one’s feelings can help with stress. First of all, you need to understand why emotions are important. There are 3 main levels of how emotions impact us. They impact the way we experience the world; they play an important part in the process of how we imbue our experiences with some form of meaning; and finally, they are important in providing us with motivation to act a certain way in the world.
Therefore, by acknowledging your emotions, you’re allowing yourself to accept the fact that you’re feeling stressed. Once the emotion has run its course, you can then proceed to let it (the feeling of stress) go instead of allowing for it to fester any further.
Metaphorically speaking, think of it as a little like pressure cooking. You need to let out a little steam or else the whole thing will blow!
Learn to say ‘NO’
Another thing that comes with the holidays is the numerous invites. From open houses to weddings and everything in between, having so much activity happening can leave anyone feeling frazzled. If we can only give you one piece of advice in regards to how to deal with this, it would be:
‘Don’t feel obligated to attend every party, dinner, or holiday activity you’re invited to.’
Yes, the whole pandemic situation makes it feel like you need to go out twice as much to make up for the fact that we’ve spent the past two years stuck at home. But in actuality, if you really don’t feel like going out, simply decline the invitation politely.
Not sure how to let someone down politely? Just follow these tips:
- It would be best if you could do so as soon as possible so as to not waste your time (or the time of the person who invited you).
- Thank the person for including you. If you have another commitment, state it first and then politely decline.
- This approach will set the tone for your refusal rather than having the recipient wonder, for a brief moment, why you are refusing.
- If you want to connect with the person, offer to meet at a later time and place.
- Close your interaction with your best wishes for the occasion. Done.
Don’t be afraid to reach out
If you’re prone to experiencing holiday stress, it may be beneficial to discuss your concerns with a friend or family member. You’d be surprised at how liberating it feels to unload some of that stress – even if your friends and family members can’t really help. Just by having a sympathetic ear to listen to your troubles can make you feel a whole lot better.
So the next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try texting, calling, or video chatting with a family member or a member of your close friend group. Maybe if they’re close by, you can also consider dropping off a meal and dessert at your friend’s or family’s place over the holidays.
Additionally, if you’re unable to physically meet your family and friends, but require more of a ‘physical interaction’, try volunteering your time or doing some charity work. This is another excellent way to lift your spirits, broaden your circle of friends and give you that ability to put all that nervous, frenetic energy to good use!
With the passage of time, change is inevitable. Families grow, time-old traditions are tweaked to fit modern standards and even long-held preferences can change. That’s why you shouldn’t stress to make things ‘perfect’ as expect everything to go according to a pre-planned script.
Instead, strive to be more realistic with your holiday expectations. For instance, if some of your relatives can’t make it home for the annual family reunion, find other ways to celebrate. For example, video calls using online services like Google Meet or Zoom, sending old school holiday cards for that nostalgic vibe, or even creating a few photo books of past holiday events and mailing them to each member of your family – just so they can each have a thoughtful keepsake to help ease their loneliness through the holidays.
Alternatively, if you’re finally meeting your relatives again after an extended period of time, be sure to expect some minor mishaps. Especially if there are small children involved. Accidental trips and spills are a common occurrence. Not to mention, sudden tantrums. Be sure to exercise patience and accept help (be it in the form of washing the dishes, helping out with the cooking or minding the kids while the adults work) when offered.
Don’t forget ‘self-care’
Our last piece of advice to help you stay mostly stress-free during the holidays is to remember to take a breather. The world is not going to implode on itself if you fail to act like the perfect host for a few minutes. Over the past two years, ‘self-care’ has topped the list of buzzwords – especially among the wellness community.
And why wouldn’t it? The past couple of years with Covid has been hard. It’s important that we acknowledge that fact so that we don’t feel overly guilty for needing to take a 10 – 15 minutes break during a gathering or event.
Sometimes, escaping to a quiet place just to relax with no distractions or people that need to be tended to can do wonders for bringing down your stress levels. It can make you feel refreshed and ready to take on whatever comes next.
Don’t let the holiday season become a source of anxiety for you. Instead, take precautions to avoid the stress and depression that can accompany the holidays. Recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can deal with them before they cause a meltdown. You can find peace and joy during the holidays with a little forethought and positive thinking.