5 Secrets to Avoiding the Holiday Stress Trap

Stress is as much a part of the holidays as family time, gift giving and parties. Thanksgiving may be behind us, but the holiday season is just beginning. So how can you make it through the upcoming weeks without succumbing to holiday worries, fears, and anxieties? Here are our top five tips for coping with seasonal stress and holiday anxiety:

  1. Know your spending limit. And stick to it!
    Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday season. This year, set a budget, and don’t spend more than you’ve planned. It’s okay to tell your child that a certain toy costs too much. Don’t buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off. Presents don’t have to cost a lot either; use words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to you. Make a phone call or write a note and share your feelings.
  2. Get organized.
    Putting pen to paper and taking a good look at your schedule and to-do lists can help relieve some of your mental stress. Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend. When you finish something, check it off your list and breathe a sigh of relief!
  3. Share the tasks.
    Delegate, delegate, delegate! You don’t have to do everything yourself. Share your “to do” list with others. Spend time with friends and family while you decorate, wrap gifts, and prepare the holiday meal. There’s nothing wrong with asking for a hand, and it can take a lot of pressure off your plate.
  4. Learn to say no.
    It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you do want to attend.
  5. Be realistic.
    Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. And remember that just because it’s a holiday, family problems don’t go away. If you have a hard time being around your relatives, it’s okay to set limits on your time at events and visits.

We understand that you may not be able to avoid stressful situations during the holidays. What you can do is to respond to holiday stress in a healthy way. Even in the most hectic home or schedule, you should make time to take care of yourself:

  • Take breaks from group activities. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Spend a little time by yourself if you can. Meditate, or do some relaxation breathing. Go for a short walk. Get away and you may be able to come back with a new perspective.
  • Keep a regular sleep, meal, and exercise schedule. Limit your alcohol. A lack of sleep or empty stomach will only make you that much more irritable and unhappy. Taking care of your physical health and well-being will help you deal with stressful situations during the holidays.
  • Get support if you need it. Holidays can sometimes trigger depression. They can be especially hard if you are already dealing with the death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship. You may feel embarrassed to ask for help, or you may think that you’ll get over “the blues” on your own. But most people need treatment to get better. Talk with your doctor about counseling and medicine for depression.

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