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How to Have a Stress Free Holiday Season
How does the saying go? It’s the most wonderful time of year? As pumpkin spice everything starts to take over your life, the realization that the holiday season is upon us is also setting in. This means endless shopping, decorating, and cooking. There are so many things to be excited and stressed about.
Many mothers feel the pressure to present the supremely decorated home, with made from scratch cookies. Let’s not forget the full course dinner, complete with delicious deserts. Other mothers simply hide and wish to sleep during the holiday season and the holiday stress that comes along with it.
Holiday stress is the increase in anxiety, feelings of stress, and/or depression that occurs as a result of the increased responsibilities during the holiday season. Holiday stress can lead to feeling overwhelmed, shutting down, or under performance. This can also be magnified by the everyday pressures of your job, family, and other responsibilities.
The holiday season is a time to spend quality time with close family members and friends. It is also a time of joy. This can easily turn the opposite way if you are not proactive with combating holiday stress. So, how do you survive holiday stress?
Here are five tips to help you navigate holiday stress:
1. Set Boundaries (Both physical and financial).
There are many more responsibilities that occur during the holidays. Sometimes in the spirit of giving, it is easy to say yes without thinking about consequences. Ask yourself, “is this task something I can take on right now? Is this something that is going to cause me to feel more stressful? Do I really want to do this?”
It’s ok to say No!
Your mental health is very important. You want to be able to enjoy the festivities as much as your family and friends. It is ok to say no. The holidays are about spending times with loved ones. In the end, the joy comes from interactions with others. A perfectly decorated house or made from scratch desserts are not what is remembered by your loved ones.
Know how much you can afford to spend!
Financial boundaries are also very important to remember. Between gifts, decorations, and food, a person can spend a small fortune during the holiday season. Set a budget and plan ahead to avoid the holiday stress related to shopping.
Save money throughout the year.
Something as simple as setting aside $25 twice a month in a holiday account, gives you $600 to spend at the end of the year. Talk to family members and friends about expectations. If you have a large family, try secret Santa or a similar activity. Avoid using credit cards as much as possible. Set a budget and stick to it. This helps to decrease some of your holiday stress and post-holiday stressors.
2. Divide Responsibilities.
There is always that one family member who appears eager to do everything during the holiday season. Many times, that extra involved family member, is also experiencing the most holiday stress. It is also easy to allow that family member to take the lead on everything holiday related for your family.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t become that eager family member who ends up having the large share of responsibilities. Identify the strengths of your family members and divide the responsibilities among several people. A task that may seem like a chore to you, can be a source of enjoyment to someone else. Be open, don’t focus on being in control, the goal is to decrease your holiday stress.
Let everyone do what they do best.
If Aunt Jane is the social butterfly, put her in charge of activities for your family gathering. Plan your menu and allow several people to bring items (this is not the time to include your cousin who can’t boil water). Assign age appropriate tasks to the children. Don’t forget to identify the organizer who will assist with dividing tasks among family members.
Sharing is caring!
Identify tasks, plan what needs to be done, and divide responsibilities among family members. These simple tasks can help to decrease feelings of holiday stress.
3. Plan Ahead and If Possible, Start Early.
Large crowds, rude people, and poor selection are guaranteed ways to increase your holiday stress. Identify gifts that you want to purchase prior to go to the store. This helps you to stick to your budget. It also prevents you from impulse buying items.
You don’t want to miss the sales!
Planning ahead and starting early also allows you to shop sales. It can be very gratifying buying an item for cheaper than what was identified in your budget.
Planning ahead also applies to other tasks. The menu, decorations, and activities can be prepped early to ensure that you are able to decrease your holiday stress. Remember steps one and two, set boundaries and divide responsibilities. Talk to your family members ahead of time to ensure that one person is not experiencing the majority of the responsibilities.
4. Don’t Overdue It!
The holidays bring an overabundance of food and other temptations. It is ok to indulge and break your diet, but in moderation. Eat before an event. This allows you to indulge less while you are out.
Don’t Forget About You!
Maintain your health routine. The holidays are not an excuse to skip exercising, abandon your diet, or lose sleep. Increase responsibility and increased holiday stress are often excuses that others use when they start to sway from their regular health routine.
Remember the Reason for the Season.
Take breaks when necessary. Try to avoid family drama. Don’t focus on negativity. Remember the purpose of the holiday season. Keep it simple. Don’t become overly involved in another person’s problem.
5. Practice Good Self Care.
The holidays are a time to enjoy family and friends. Increased holiday stress can lead to mood swings, feelings of depression, irritability, and withdrawal. These symptoms can make you unenjoyable to your family and friends.
You have to take care of you!
Daily self-care is very important all year long. With increased holiday stress, self-care is imperative. During the holidays this can include, setting boundaries with others, taking time for yourself, or doing something that you enjoy. If crafting is something you enjoy, volunteer to be in charge of decorating. Don’t volunteer to complete a task that seems like a chore.
Retail therapy is a term that refers to shopping as a form of self-care. It is true, buying new things can release the feel good juice in your brain. Too much of a good thing can lead to temporary improvement, but can cause you to feel increased stress later on.
Know your triggers.
Good self-care also includes being aware of your triggers. A trigger is a person or situation that contributes to negative changes in your mood. Having this self-awareness, allows you to implement good self-care when the trigger occurs. You can also avoid triggers all together.
Don’t forget to have fun this holiday season.
Take time to enjoy your family and friends. Don’t get caught up in the little details of the day. Advocate for yourself. It is ok to ask for help. Again, it is ok to say no! Family and friends should be supportive and respectful of your decisions. If you present as the yes person who can handle it all, then others will take advantage of you.
If you find yourself experiencing increased sadness, irritability, or other negative feelings, please seek professional help.
What’s your favorite thing to do during the holiday season? What do you do to keep from feeling stressed? Share with us below.
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