5 Tips to Managing Holiday Stress
While the end of the year may be the happiest season of all, it’s also a stressful time for many people. Between work, home, and family, holiday stress can pile higher than the snow and cause some people to have difficulty managing the holidays. Research shows stress can contribute to holiday depression and other health difficulties, so it’s important to find strategies for holiday stress to enjoy the most festive time of the year. If you’re feeling overwhelmed this holiday season, these holiday stress tips can help take the burden off your shoulder.
Find the Right Mindset
The first step to reducing holiday stress is to have the right mindset. Like with most things, having the right mindset can make even the most stressful times enjoyable. The same is true for the end of the year. Mastering the right mindset can help make a season of office stress and shopping sprees enjoyable and truly the happiest time of the year.
The right mindset for the holidays is to expect good, even if it’s difficult to see. Expecting stress and unhappiness could potentially lead to the holidays being stressful and unhappy. On the other hand, expecting and working toward happiness can lead to a less stressful and happier season. Instead of thinking, “I can’t wait for the holidays to end,” or “I have too much to do,” try thinking “I am looking forward to spending time with my family during the holidays.” Changing thoughts can bring about the right mindset and offset the holiday stress.
Savor the Breaks and Waits
Nobody likes waiting in line. But waiting in line is an inevitability during the holiday season. Between lines at stores and extra traffic, most everyone will spend time waiting in line during the holiday season. Some might see these lines as an extra stressor, but lines can actually help you with holiday stress.
At a stoplight or grocery check-out lane, instead of focusing on how the line is hindering progress, enjoy the line for what it is: a much-needed break. The hectic holidays can sometimes suck all your leisure time and breaks, but lines and delays provide a built-in break. Savor these few minutes to hours spent in line and use the time to relax and destress. Try doing some deep breathing and pondering. There’s no way to shorten the lines or avoid traffic, but you can use that time as a break to reduce the typical holiday stress.
Outsource When Possible
Sometimes people forget they don’t have to do everything. This mindset becomes especially problematic during the holiday season because the normal workload seems to increase. At home, it might be extra cooking and cleaning, and at work, it might mean finalizing projects and meeting deadlines. These extra tasks can disrupt your normal work-life balance and take away from the true joys of the season: family and friends. So when the dishes, cooking, baking, entertaining, and cleaning pile high, try outsourcing whatever possible.
Instead of losing precious time with family to cook, buy food or get take-out. Instead of missing the annual sledding trip for a deadline, work ahead and then find a coworker to help out. In some cases, it might even be worth hiring someone to clean. Take some time to consider what can be outsourced to reduce holiday depression and stress.
Learn to Say No
When outsourcing isn’t possible, don’t be afraid to say no. Holiday parties, gift buying, and family parties all pile up and there’s not enough time for everything. Friends and family will understand if you can’t say yes to every activity the season brings. Some projects at work might not need your extra attention or can be pushed off into the new year.
Say no to the things that aren’t bringing joy to your life. If saying no to something isn’t possible, like a project at work, say no to the gift exchange with your friends instead. Make sure to take a minute for yourself too. A simple 15-minute breather can make a huge difference in your holiday stress level.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
When the holiday stress sets in, it can seem impossible to take time for yourself. But it’s crucial to take a minute away from wrapping presents or end-of-the-year reports to destress and relax. Make sure you get enough sleep, eat healthy, and exercise regularly. Studies show these three self-care practices can help reduce depression, so you can enjoy the season.
Scheduling in fun activities you can look forward to can also help stave off the holiday depression. Plan a dinner with friends or a night out to see the Christmas lights and don’t let the tedious tasks of the season overwhelm you. Once the activities are planned, don’t start dreading them or thinking of them as one more thing to do. Look forward to these activities and use them to help you manage the holidays.
Use Family Time Wisely
For those with a mental disorder, family can either be a help or burden on your mental health and holiday depression. Spend time with your loved ones where it helps. Holiday depression can bring about feelings of loneliness and being around family and friends can alleviate some of those feelings.
Don’t be ashamed of saying no if you believe family time could be a detriment to your mindset. Family members can trigger old memories or cause unnecessary guilt trips and sometimes it’s not the best idea to be around them for days on end. Instead of spending the whole week of Christmas with them, spend the day with them. Know your limits and make the decisions that are best for your mental health despite what others might think.
The Bottom Line
Sometimes there is nothing you can do to manage the stress or depression that comes around this time of year. The holidays can trigger difficult emotions that need to be discussed with professionals. When none of the holiday stress tips above help you manage these emotions, seek support and care.
If you are currently meeting with a counselor for a mental disorder, make sure to continue sessions during the holidays. Clinical depression needs additional care from professionals. If you or a loved one are suffering from depression, learn more about the mental health services at The Phoenix.