Tips to Coping with Holiday Stress
It's the time of the year again. You know, the time after fall begins and brings along with it the advent of the holiday season. For everyone living in the United States, it starts with Halloween in October and goes up until the New Year. The holiday mood and mindset last for several months and celebrations begin in advance. These industries are booming because of the public's enthusiasm. However, there are a lot of people that don't share the same kind of opinion. For a lot of people, in any country, holidays can mean more stress and undue anxiety.
Why is there a divide in the mood for a seemingly over joyous and zealous time? The reason is what is known by many as holiday stress. This stress is as natural as any other out there, and it should be taken seriously if one is to look after their health. First, let's begin by discussing why people come across these feelings. If you feel uneasy about the holidays and don't know why this article will help you understand those reasons and provide tips to overcome stress.
Reasons Behind Holiday Stress
There are many reasons behind going through holiday stress year after year, as discussed below:
Going To Extremes
The issue with the holiday season is that we frequently get too much of a good thing. While stress is required for our survival and enjoyment of life, too much pressure is harmful to our mental and physical health. If you're gunning to hit every party you get invited to, you may tire out sooner than you think. Too many events, even if they are enjoyable, might result in excessive holiday stress, leaving us stressed rather than fulfilled. As the adage goes, everything is in moderation. And we should adhere to it.
Spending Too Much Time With Family
Extended families tend to assemble throughout the holidays. While this can be a good thing, even the closest families can overdo it, making it difficult for family members to strike a healthy balance between connecting and alone time.
We can't discount the fact that not every family is close, and many people may have suffered extreme trauma at the hands of immediate family members. The holiday season can conjure up that trauma, especially when you see many people spending the holidays together.
Many families also assign duties to each family member based on who they were in the past rather than who they are now, making these meetings more dreadful than enjoyable.
The advent of social media has brought up so many feelings of insecurity and anxiety. The holidays are no exception. Tying into the previous two reasons, social media is a big hit to our egos. We see elaborate displays of celebration by people we know or celebrities, and immediately it becomes a trend. We feel pressured by those posts to match that level of enthusiasm or festivities, even if it isn't within our reach. This can bring a massive blow to our financial situation, causing even more stress. After all, not everyone can have the Kardashian Family Christmas, as evident from their millions of posts.
Many people, especially those who have lost lovers or parents, find this problematic since it reminds them of their loneliness. Since holidays signify people coming together to celebrate, this reminds us even more of that social circle that most don't have. While the rest of the world appears to be gathering around family, those who rely on friends for support may feel abandoned and alone.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
As evident by the name, SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder is precisely just that. A problem that often goes unnoticed throughout the Christmas season is actually a result of the seasons changing from fall to winter. Many people are impacted to some degree by seasonal affective disorder when daylight hours decrease, and the weather forces many of us to spend more time indoors. It's a subtle but genuine ailment that can lay a fog over the entire season, causing stress and sadness at a time when people expect to feel the polar opposite.
In these difficult economic times, buying affordable gifts can be stressful in and of itself. Holiday debt is a habit that far too many people inadvertently put on themselves, with the stress that comes with it lasting for months.
Furthermore, many people eat, drink, and be merry—often to excess—due to an overflow of parties and gift-giving occasions. The temptation to overindulge in spending, decadent desserts, or drink can produce long-term stress for many people as they deal with the consequences (debt, weight gain, tales of embarrassment) that can remain long after the season is over.
Your Guide To De-Stress
Now that you have been introduced to the underlying reasons, we have tips and tricks to help you navigate the holiday season and minimize your stress.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
It's critical to be conscious of your limitations when dealing with family and friends. Consider prior years to see how much togetherness you and your family can handle before becoming overly stressed. Is it doable to limit the number of parties you attend or throw, as well as the amount of time you spend socializing at each? Can you condense your time with family into a more manageable amount of time that yet feels special and enjoyable without tiring you?
You can always reach out to close friends and family you are feeling lonely during the holidays. If almost everyone you know is spending the holidays with their families, you might want to consider volunteering to aid those who are less fortunate. Many people say these encounters are tremendously rewarding, and you'll be more focused on what you have rather than what you don't have.
Begin by gathering your family for a meeting. Ask each of them to reflect on previous vacations and respond to the following question: "What activities or decisions made the most positive or important memories for you? What were the pointless things we did or expectations we had that just served to frustrate or disappoint you and the rest of us?"
Start a proactive dialogue with your family.
What's a win for you — What have been the most essential things in your life? What are some of the festivities that bring a grin to your face when you recall them?
Stick To Your Routines
If you're someone who works out every week or does other forms of activities such as meditation, therapy, etc., that usually help you de-stress, stick to them.
There's a lot guilty pleasures that come knocking on our doorstep during the holiday season. It's upto us to make sure we are aware of all of these. After all, the holiday season will end, and you will end up catering to your guilt afterward.
Prepare ahead of time by being aware of your triggers, doing what you can to keep some nutritious food on hand for each meal, tracking your intake, and practicing mindful eating. Keep track of your alcohol intake and go at a pace that seems best for you. That post-Christmas office party hangover is just not worth it.
Be Aware of What You Can Afford, And What You Can't
If you're concerned about your holiday spending and how it may affect you after the holidays, be realistic about what you can afford. The value of a present is less essential than the sentiment behind it.
Make a spending plan and stick to it. Only spend money on things that are in your budget, and if you can't, bake a treat or volunteer your skills and time to friends and family.
Say No, Where You Can
It's perfectly acceptable to say "no," and the more you do it, the simpler it will become. Say "yes" to the activities and events that you know will make you happy. Say "no" to commitments that you know will lead to disappointment and heartbreak. Work a couple additional hours of overtime if it will make you happy and allow you to buy your mother her first new television in twenty years. If a neighbor you don't care for invites you to a holiday party, you have the option to decline. You'll be glad you did it.
Journal The Blues Away
Journaling is a great way to stay mindful during the holiday season. You can use journaling to plan ahead, make a list of things you're supposed to do to prepare and keep your finances in check. It's also a great way to write down troubling emotions and fears to gauge how you'll fare in a situation.
As always, JournalOwl is here to help. You can easily keep a daily online journal where you can pen down all your thoughts and feelings.
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