15 Ways You Can Help Reduce Holiday Stress
For a majority of us, starting in October, the holidays seem to fall back to back. First, we had Halloween, then Thanksgiving, next week is Christmas and a week after that we will be bringing in the New Year (already!). The holiday season can be the most stressful time of the year for millions of people around the world, even for those who don’t deal with mental health conditions in their daily lives. The holiday season can bring on new or worsening financial stress, loads of anxiety, bickering among even the closest of families, and so much more. I don’t have to tell you, you are most likely already aware of all this.
While the holiday season is about spending time with those that you love and cherish the most, for some people, this time of year can trigger feelings of great loss. Not everyone gets to be with their loved ones during the holidays for a number of reasons.
If you had tips that could help you minimize your holiday stress and keep you from a holiday meltdown, would you at least give them a try? If you answered yes, continue reading to see 15 of the top ways you can help reduce your holiday stress!
15. Learn To Say No
The holiday season is a time for giving, but there is such a thing as giving too much. Not everyone pays attention to the “giving” portion of the holidays because some people sadly focus on the “receiving.” You have to realize that you do not need to do everything yourself. You don’t have to pick up those extra holiday shifts (unless you want to), you don’t have to turn your car into a Taxi service, you don’t even have to lend your best friend money if you don’t want to.
Learning to say no does not make you a bad person, it makes you human.
You are not expected to do everything for everyone in your life. You have to be realistic in your abilities and say no to what you can’t or don’t want to do.
14. Don’t Abandon Your Healthy Habits
Many of us have some sort of routine that we follow which includes what we need to do to keep ourselves happy and healthy. For some, this would be taking health sustaining medications, getting exercise, watching what we eat. It is so easy to lose sight of your healthy habits during the holidays but it is something that must be done. As an example, if you journal every night before bed and it is Christmas Eve, continue to do so like you would any other night. If you are on a special diet, try to stay reasonably close to whatever your goals and restrictions are. It’s best to stick to some kind of routine because come December 26, it is back to the real world.
13. Create A Budget… And Stick To It!
Financial stress can be a real burden around the holidays, especially while we are out shopping and buying gifts for our loved ones. It is easy to go overboard or get caught up on the deal of the day. It is best to create a spending budget so that you don’t accidently spend your rent money on brand new cell phones for all four of your kids or nieces and nephews at one shot. This is ideally something that should be started at the beginning of the holiday season but better late than never! If you know your finances are tight, start calculating just how much you are safe to spend.
12. Reach Out
If you are finding the holidays challenging, the worst thing you can do is isolate. You need to reach out to someone you trust or that you are close to and let them know how you are feeling. Talking can do a lot for the soul. Sometimes we just need someone to sit on the other end of the phone in silence, just listening to us as we spill our guts. Sometimes you may be surprised to see that you aren’t alone in how you are feeling. Try not to hold your feelings in and just let them out.
11. Be Realistic
Holidays can be magical so sometimes getting swept off your feet by the holiday spirit can seem challenging. As I have touched on a bit, keeping things realistic is important to helping manage holiday stress. If you set your expectations too high regarding how you want to do things or how you wish things would turn out, it can sometimes be equivalent to setting yourself up for failure; and no one wants to do that. Try not to drift away to the clouds and instead set your sights on things that can be done or achieved in the real world.
10. Set Aside Differences
This next one can be very challenging for many people, but trying to set aside differences for the holiday can make things run a bit smoother. You can go back to how things were once the holidays are over, if you choose. I personally wish I would have set aside my differences for the holidays last year because Christmas and New Years could have been a bit more emotionally tolerable. I felt so alone last year. If I would have known then what I know now, I would have swallowed my pride a bit.
9. Plan Ahead
The holidays are chaotic, and it is understandable that you cannot plan everything, but when you plan for what you can, realistically, things really can run a lot smoother which in turn will bring you less stress. If you are going somewhere that may not be the healthiest for you, try to make plans in advance on how you can get out of specific situations. Plan to gas up your vehicle before the holiday hits. Plan out your outfit the day before. Like I mentioned, you can’t plan everything in advance but plan what you can.
8. Acknowledge Your Feelings & Get Them Out
If you are starting to feel stressed out, sad, depressed, anxious, it is not the end of the world. This I can promise you. But you can start by acknowledging how you feel. This one can go hand in hand with reaching out to someone when you are feeling bad or uncomfortable. Don’t let these “negative” emotions well up. I am a firm believer in journaling to manage emotions. By journaling, you can write out how you are feeling and if you think that it’s just because it’s “that time of the year,” you may be surprised at what you find once you get those feelings out of your head and onto paper.
7. Take A Break
If the pressure is on and you are starting to feel really stressed, take a break; walk away for a moment. Then, after you are feeling the pressure start to release, go back to what you were doing. Taking a break doesn’t make you weak. It’s okay to walk away. If you are feeling bombarded by life’s demands, and taking a break just isn’t enough, see number six below.
6. Learn Some Coping Techniques
Having coping skills and techniques are a must during any times that might be of great stress. You can take some deep relaxing breaths, go for a walk, journal, blog, meditate, practice mindfulness, play with a pet, or anything else that may help you reduce your anxiety and stress levels. Some people play with Fidget Cubes or Spinners while others may rub their favorite necklace in between their fingers. It is all about what works for you because what works for your significant other may not work for you.
(You can click on the highlighted links above to view articles on stress and anxiety reduction techniques.)
5. When Induldging… Know Your Limits
If you are going to be partaking in certain festivities this holiday season, such as having a few drinks, know what your limits are. Plus, if you are going to be traveling, make sure to always have a designated driver. I feel like I just need to throw this out there: if you are suffering from the holiday blues, avoiding alcohol may be the best option for you since alcohol is a known depressant.
4. Keep It Simple
This next one can be much harder to do than it appears. If you know that this holiday season is going to be trying for you, keep it simple. You don’t always have to go above and beyond. Be easy on yourself. You can and will make it through the holidays.
3. Take Time For Yourself
Part of caring for your happiness and health, even during the holidays, is making sure that you still find at least 20-30 minutes a day to take some time for yourself. If you need some great ideas on how to spend some quality “me time,” Click Here.
2. Pick Your Battles
Picking your battles during the holiday season can go hand in hand with learning to set your differences aside with a loved one. It seems like the holidays either make a person extremely gleeful or extremely stressed. Get a bunch of family members and friends together who each have their own personality, likes, wants, and needs and it can sometimes be a recipe for disaster. You don’t have to participate in every battle that get’s thrown your way. Be choosy and make it count.
1. Seek Out Help If It Gets Bad
If you are finding the holiday season to be unbearable, emotionally draining, or if you are suffering from the holiday blues severely, please seek out professional help whether it’s from a doctor or a therapist. No matter how bleak things may seem, especially if you are grieving during the holidays, you are not alone in this. It does get better. I am living proof of that.
Samantha is the author of "My Bipolar Mind: You're not alone," she is also a freelance writer, blogger, and mental health advocate who runs and manages her own mental health blog MyBipolarMind.com.