Handling Holiday Stress

Handling Holiday Stress

Are you anxious about hosting the perfect holiday dinner? Do you worry that your kids will be disappointed that they didn’t get the newest iPhone? Tell the truth: Is all of the pressure to be jolly making you miserable?

While the holiday season is a time for family togetherness and celebration, it can also be one of the most stressful times of the year. The notion that you’re supposed to be happy can make it even more difficult time for people of all ages, especially those who experience depression or other mental health challenges.

Below are some tips from experts at the Mayo Clinic on how to prevent stress from ruining your holidays:

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. 
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. As families change and grow, traditions often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
  4. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. And be understanding if others get upset when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress, too.
  5. Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.

Try these alternatives:

  1. Donate to a charity in someone’s name.
  2. Give homemade gifts.
  3. Start a family gift exchange.
  4. Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. 
  5. Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

  1. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  2. Get plenty of sleep.
  3. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  4. Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. 

Some options may include:

  1. Taking a walk at night and stargazing.
  2. Listening to soothing music.
  3. Getting a massage.
  4. Reading a book.
  5. Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.

Remember: The best thing you can spend on your kids is time, so don’t stress about getting them every last thing on their wish list. 

Happy holidays from all of us at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center!