It’s that time of year again. When families gather together and celebrate the holiday season. This should be a time of good feeling, joy, fellowship, and peace. Why is it then, that so many suffer from stress during the holidays? Research shows that 90% of Americans feel some kind of stress during the holidays. What can you do to keep yourself from being overwhelmed by holiday stress? There are many strategies you can employ to help relieve holiday stress. The following are six areas of possible stress and what you can do to manage that stress.
We all want the most joyous and fun holiday experience, not just for ourselves but for our loved ones as well. Often we have fond memories of how special our holidays were as children and feel the need to recreate that special feeling. Or perhaps we are bombarded with images and reports of other people’s amazing holiday celebrations and feel the need to be able to make our own just as extravagant or elegant. It is important to remember that you are no longer a child, so your holidays will be different, and should be different. As you move through various stages in your life, you change, as does your family situation. It is not reasonable to expect that your holiday celebration will remain the same then. Perhaps your children are now grown with their own families, or possibly some family members are far from home. Allow your expectations for holiday time to change with you and your family. Adjust high expectations for the most amazing holidays ever (a sure fire stress inducer) to be that of “good enough”. You will find that your “good enough” holiday is just as it should be for you and your family, and more than likely will be considered “perfect” in every way that counts.
Getting It All Done
The entertaining, shopping, travel and numerous other tasks that accompany the holidays can just feel like too much on top of an already full schedule. Time is one of two resources that can cause stress, so employing some time management techniques can help. If you are feeling pulled in too many different directions, take a moment to slow down. Take the opportunity to plan menus and consider gift ideas ahead of time. If you can, let those lists sit for a few days before acting upon them as often times we think of more items in which to add. Take a good look at the lists and group items together that can be purchased either at the same time or at the same place. By doing this, you can cut down on the amount to time spent running around gathering what you need for the holidays. Consider what tasks truly need to be done by you and what can be delegated. If your family or friends that make your support system are unable to lend a hand, consider hiring a professional for certain tasks such as cooking and cleaning.
Money is the other resource that causes stress among many individuals. Unfortunately for many of us the holiday season comes with a high price tag. The food, drink, parties, and gifts take a toll on our wallets. There never seems to be enough, particularly during the holidays. It is best to create a budget for the holidays and stick to it. Avoid any temptation to stray from this budget. If your family is agreeable, consider doing a gift swap where in each member draws the name of one person to get a gift for, rather than buying for everyone in the family. It is likely that others in your family will benefit from such a suggestion and will welcome the idea. Pooling money with another and buying gifts together is another idea to consider. Making your own gifts is also a great thing to do. There are many DIY (do it yourself) websites that have great ideas for gifts to make that save quite a bit of money. If you are someone who can bake, give baked goods. Finally give the gift of time. Offer your services to babysit for a friend or do a chore such as cleaning out a garage or basement for someone who just doesn’t have the time or ability. Such gifts are free and often are the most valued by the receiver.
For many of us the holidays bring wonderful family time and feelings of joy. However, for some it has the opposite effect, where not being with family or having social connections is brought front and center heightening the feeling of loneliness. If you are far from home and are unable to be with family, consider some alternative ways in which to connect with them such as Skype, email, or videos. Participating in what your community has to offer in the form of holiday concerts or events is a great way to not feel so alone during the holidays. Perhaps you can reach out to a colleague at work who may be far from family or not have plans for the holidays and plan a get together. Another great way to stave off feeling lonely or sad during the holidays is to volunteer your time and energy to places such as a local soup kitchen or children’s hospital. Helping someone else to have a better holiday experience helps raise your own spirits and could give you the opportunity to make social connections. If you are missing a loved one who has passed away, perhaps consider having a reading done by a psychic medium in order to connect with them. Hearing messages from our deceased loved ones can be very healing and bring about happiness.
The holiday season brings about more parties, large crowds to deal with, an overload of lights and sights, an abundance of sounds, and more demands on our time. It is not a surprise then that many of us have feelings of being overwhelmed and experience anxiety. It is helpful if you can look for the humor in situations when feeling stressed, so look for something to smile or chuckle about. If large crowds bother you, then perhaps consider getting your shopping done online instead of heading to the mall. If you are caught in a long line or traffic jam, take the time to strike up a conversation with someone in line or use hands free calling to chat with a friend. If there is too much outside stimuli causing you anxiety, take a time out to breathe deeply and remind yourself that this season is only temporary and will not last. Be mindful of what environments cause you anxiety and do your best to avoid them. Finally, practice the art of saying “no”. Do you really need to be at every holiday party and cookie swap you are invited to? Take a look at your calendar and be realistic with your time. Only say yes to gatherings and events that feed your inner joy and be sure to have downtime scheduled for yourself and important family members.
Maintain Healthy Habits
The holidays usually bring about rich food, sweets, alcohol, and less time for your own wellbeing. At this time it is important to maintain healthy habits. Make sure you are getting enough water. Eat as healthy as you can on days that you are not otherwise engaged in holiday parties and gatherings. When socializing, limit your alcoholic intake and be mindful of your food choices. Remember to move your body by either maintaining your exercise regimen or taking energizing walks. Take breaks from the hustle and bustle to connect back to yourself by engaging in something you enjoy doing, such as a hobby, or find quiet time to meditate. If you are feeling pulled in too many directions, consider going for an energy healing, such as Reiki, as that can help slow you down, give clarity, and help keep you in balance. Healthy behaviors such as these keep you from getting fatigued, ill, or packing on extra pounds. In addition, it has the added bonus of reducing your stress!
Many Blessings for a happy, healthy, and stress free holiday!