The holiday season is upon us and you may be looking forward to spending time with family and friends, taking some time off work, or even escaping for a winter getaway, but with all the fun may also come stress. The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive person. Jingle bells may leave your nerves jangled. According to the American Psychological Association, 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season. And with stress comes a greater risk for anxiety and depression. Reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays. All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your anxiety and learn how to handle the stress of the holiday season.
Set A Budget
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. However, you can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and the Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.
It’s extremely important to keep up exercise during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. Gaining weight is a common concern during the holidays and for people who are trying to lose weight, the holidays are a difficult time.
You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, and find time for aerobics. Exercise is also going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress. It’s hard enough sticking to a diet but with the rich foods and drinks that are offered at work, at your friends’ homes, and at family gatherings, it can be hard to deny yourself.
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over-eat while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
Take It Easy
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. People who have strong relationships with family and friends are happier people and live longer. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.
You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in your family to take on certain tasks. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
Choose Your Battles
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way whether that’s a co-worker who gets out of hand at the office holiday party or that relative you only see at family gatherings. Allowing someone to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress levels. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait. Remember that the holidays don’t last forever. Take a five-minute break to calm yourself down, to meditate, or move to talk to someone else.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.
Self-care is a conscious choice and is even more important during times of increased stress such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan to make the most of the season! The holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.