The holidays can be a lovely and exciting time. The colors, music, favorite foods, sweater weather (OK – maybe not here in Florida) can bring happiness and good memories.
However, the holidays can also be stressful and for some create more stress or anxiety than normal! No matter which holiday you celebrate (or maybe don’t celebrate at all) it is a busy time that can be stressful to navigate.
Here are my 5 tips to better manage stress during the holiday season.
Prepare and Organize:
Take some time to think about what needs to be done before the holidays within the time you have left. Do you have to buy gifts? Deep clean your house? Get supplies? Write down everything you have to do!
Decide what needs to be prioritized – what is most important and/or time sensitive? You might even rank them from most to least important.
Can anything be delegated (i.e. can you hire a cleaning service or put your cousin in charge of DIY placemats)?
Make a plan of action for how and when you can get everything done. Get the most important things taken care of first, then decide what might be OK to drop if you run out of time or energy. As awesome as you are, you can’t do it all!
Identify & Manage Your Expectations:
Think about your expectations for the holidays. Everyone might not get along and the DIY table setting may not look like the picture you found on Instagram – but you can still enjoy yourself even if things don’t go as planned.
Know that there will be some bumps along the way. When something happens, take a breath and move forward! Recognize what you can and can’t control to help reduce tension.
Check in with Yourself Daily:
Notice how you’re feeling throughout the holidays. Notice any physical symptoms or anxious thoughts and make adjustments. For example, you might notice that increased socializing has taken a toll and decide to find some time for yourself!
If you notice any trending worries, try writing them down. Now, think about how you would respond to these worries if they were being shared with you by a good friend. Try to think of some encouraging, compassionate, and realistic ways to “talk back” to these worries.
Strive for Balance and Moderation:
There are lots of tempting treats and drinks around the holiday season. Enjoy yourself, but try to balance the sweets with some healthy food too. Notice how you feel after eating a lot of sugar or overeating and try to adjust accordingly. Know that although alcohol can appear to “take the edge off” for some, overdoing it can contribute to increased anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and other health and wellness issues.
Try to get in a workout during the holidays – especially if it’s in your normal routine. Getting some fresh air and/or exercise is great for managing stress and anxiety.
Moderation isn’t just about food, but also about your time. Make sure to schedule downtime or alone time amidst all the holiday parties and family get-togethers. Offer to make a trip to the grocery store or walk the family dog so you can have a few minutes to yourself if you’re at busy or crowded family gatherings.
Identify and Use Your Go-To Strategies:
Build your go-to strategies into your daily routine leading up to the time before and during the holidays. If you don’t know what these would be…now may be a good time to try some!
These strategies will be different for everything. Some may benefit from regular deep breathing exercises, fitting in a yoga class, or trying quick mindfulness exercises. Maybe spend some time with your pet or googling cute puppy videos on youtube.
Know who your go to support people are and make sure to be in touch with them throughout the holidays (especially if they aren’t the ones you’ll be spending time with). Set up phone calls and make time to see or talk to the people who validate and understand you.
You got this!
It is impossible to avoid stress, but you can take steps to prevent and manage it so it doesn’t take over! Plan what you can, identify your support team and go-to stress management strategies, and breathe through the rest. I know it may sound easier said than done, but give some of these tips a shot and see if they could help you have a less stressful holiday season.
If you’d like more support in better managing stress or anxiety this holiday season (or anytime) contact me or another therapist for support. I have openings before the holidays and would be honored to help you work on your stress or anxiety management plan. Contact me now for a complimentary consultation to learn how I could help.
Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday season!