The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and laughter, and according to what we see on TV and hear on the radio, they are supposed to be ‘perfect’. These ‘shoulds’ and the holidays in general can create extra stress for you and your friends and families.
Although stress is a natural part of life, left unchecked it can affect your health, peace of mind, and your relationships. We invite you check out the list below for some tips on how to deal with any holiday stress that may arise:
- Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
- Relax. Let go of your tensions every chance that you get. Forget yourself for a while by becoming engrossed in a good book, listening to your favorite music or walking the shores of Puget Sound. Visit your local park and sit quietly among the trees. Other ways to relax include working on a hobby, meditating or gardening. Build some relaxation time into each day.
- Be Kind To Yourself. People are frequently too hard on themselves when things don’t go “right.” Pay attention to your negative thoughts about yourself and counteract them with positive statements. Instead of saying to yourself, “I’m stupid, I’ll never get this right”, try saying “I’m alert and I catch on quickly”. Mean it when you say it. It takes a little practice, but it changes your whole perception of yourself.
- Find a Friend. Friendships are very important for mental fitness. In fact, working on a friendship is one of the best ways to continue growing as a person. Expressing feelings and ideas to another person can help us clarify what is truly important to ourselves.
- Express Your Feelings. Try to find ways to express your feelings. For some people that’s a hard thing to do. Going to a movie where others are likely to be laughing or crying can be a safe way to express your emotions. Don’t be afraid to feel “down” sometimes, everyone does. Try recording your thoughts in a journal, or even write a letter to the editor of your newspaper. Emotions are natural responses to the experiences of life. Learn to let them pass through you.