How to Manage Holiday Stress

While the holidays are often associated with joy, gift-giving, and parties, most Americans experience something known as holiday stress. Whether it’s making sure all the gifts are wrapped or feeling anxious about seeing certain family members, this time of year can be a significant weight on the mind.

The purpose of this blog is to explore the reasons why holiday stress affects so many people. From there, we’re going to offer our advice on coping with these feelings so you can make the most out of your time this holiday season.

What is Holiday Stress?

Simply put, holiday stress is a form of stress that only comes around during the holiday season. More often than not, it is an accumulation of a number of different factors. It’s important to remember that even though most people feel a sense of enjoyment during this time, a lot is going on in the mind with all of the gatherings, shopping, and overindulgence. The following are some of those factors that play a role in holiday stress:

It’s Okay Not to Indulge

When it comes to the holidays, we tend to indulge in several unhealthy habits. Whether it’s eating too many sweets, drinking too much alcohol, or spending more money than we can afford - the holidays provide us with an excuse. And this excuse often becomes the motivation for our New Year’s resolution.

The more you indulge in these temptations, the more stressed you’re likely to be. It’s okay to be a bit strict with yourself. To not eat that extra piece of cake, to not have one more glass of wine, or to only purchase a gift you can afford. Be sure to avoid holiday indulgence, for the stress it brings can last for months afterward.

Being With Loved Ones

It’s safe to say we all enjoy the fact that the holidays provide us with the opportunity to see family, friends, and loved ones. However, no matter how much we care for these people, too much togetherness can be stressful - even in the closest of families.

While this holiday season may look a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely you’ll at least be spending time with immediate family and close friends. If so, be sure to give yourself alone time. Finding the right balance between being by oneself and socializing is key to easing holiday stress.

Not Being with Loved Ones

As mentioned, this holiday season is going to look a bit different than those we’re accustomed to. Chances are you’re not going to see all of your family this year due to the current pandemic. And being away from the people we love can drive us into loneliness.

Not to mention, many people don’t have close family and friends to go to during the holidays. As everyone else gets together and celebrates, these times can feel even more isolating.

Too Much All At Once

Let’s face it - during the holiday season, there’s A LOT going on. From parties to shopping to Christmas specials on repeat, it’s quite impossible to avoid the excitement most of the world feels this time of year.

With so much going on, some people just find themselves stressed from all the activities. We’re sure many of you feel exhausted once the New Year rings in rather than fulfilled. If so, don’t be afraid to take this time to relax and, possibly, participate in an activity you don’t normally have time for.

Seasonal Depression

While not everyone will experience seasonal depression, enough do for it to become an issue. Better known as seasonal affective disorder, this is a type of depression that comes about when the seasons change from fall to winter. It’s usually caused by a lack of sunlight and colder weather that forces us to stay indoors. The condition in and of itself can cause a lot of stress for individuals. So much so, that the holiday season may feel more like a burden rather than a blessing.

How to Manage Holiday Stress

Unlike other forms of stress, we all know holiday stress is just around the corner. With that said, we can prepare to minimize it as much as possible.

However, what we do to minimize this stress is very personal - we each are in different situations and, at the end of the day, require different techniques. The following advice is merely a suggestion of what can be done in order to curb this stressful time of year:

  • Breathe Easy - It may sound simple enough, but one of the biggest causes of stress is the fact that we forget to breathe properly. Whether it’s taking deep breaths or practicing breathing meditation, you want to make sure to breathe out your stress this holiday season.

  • Don’t Eat Too Much - Again, it may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we need to coach ourselves. Especially, during the holiday season. With so much delicious food being offered to us, it can be extremely tempting to just overindulge. But it’s important to be mindful about what we eat because, at the end of the day, this plays a major role in our overall mental health.

  • Make Priorities - It’s likely you’re going to be invited to a number of activities. Before you go forward with all of them, consider which ones will have the best impact on you. You’ll want to participate in those activities rather than ones that can lead to more stress.

  • Schedule Your Time - Most of us have some kind of schedule during the holiday season. However, some of us may find that plans pop up or we’ve simply forgotten about promises we’ve made. By writing down exactly what you’re going to be doing throughout the next month - day by day and hour by hour - you might just save yourself a ton of stress.
  • Final Word

    While it’s likely impossible we can avoid all holiday stress, we can set out to minimize it as much as possible. As mentioned, our suggestions are merely common ways for people to ease stress. You may find that your situation requires different strategies and, if so, be sure to go forward with them

    The holidays are supposed to be a time to enjoy and there’s no reason we all shouldn’t feel fulfilled when they’re over.

     Written by: Paul James