Preventing Holiday Stress
Ahhhhh the festive season fast approacheth! Now what? Do you run straight on into the fray? Are you feeling more dread than festive joy? Here are some tips to help you move into the season, keep it together and maybe even revel in it.
Self-Care Through the Holidays
Set a budget.
Make a budget you can realistically stick to. You could even go as far as to only use cash or debit…no debt for the New Year!
We all want to have the BEST holiday season ever, but be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Your expectations of yourself and others can add stress. Seeking perfection sets you up for disappointment, and who needs that?
Set personal limits.
Not every one in every family gets along and sometimes we have different expectations. Set your boundaries and be honest with others about them. Limit visit times in your home and others homes.
Indulge … within reason.
Oh the food and drinks! Often our food and alcohol consumption increases and our activity levels dip. The combination can lead to a celebration tainted by guilt, stomach aches and regret. Allow yourself special treats, just be cautious of overdoing it.
Exercise is good for what ails ya (Said my Grams)! It can decrease anxiety, decrease stress, increase focus, help with hydration and improve sleep.
Pace and prioritize.
Have you over-committed yourself in the past or been “given” tasks that took over the season? Take on only what you truly know you can handle. Cut out items that fall low on the priority list. Get together with family members or friends and share the chores. Pace yourself to tackle the rest.
Head off the blues.
Many people feel lonely, isolated or emotional at holiday times. Why not try a new winter hobby/activity, join a new group or volunteer. Pet shelters are busy at Christmas and can always use a hand.
Holidays often bring to mind our loved ones who have passed. Take the time to acknowledge them and the fact that this season won’t feel like past ones. Why not create a new tradition in their name? Maybe Uncle Lou loved spaghetti with wieners. Why not have Uncle Lou Spaghetti Night?
Take time to look back on the year and give yourself credit for the good things. Practicing gratitude has been shown to boost happiness.
Make yourself a schedule. Specific days for shopping, cooking, visiting etc. Plan your meals too. This will help prevent last-minute scrambling.
Time for you. This can be a very busy time, even if you adhere to your schedule. Take some well-deserved time for yourself. Even 15 minutes soaking in the tub can clear your mind and restore you.
Change it up.
You know what they say … a change is as good as a rest. Even the tried and true gets a little stale. Maybe this is the year to try something different: go to a restaurant instead of cooking, draw names for gifts to reduce costs or see a movie on Christmas Day instead of planning a huge family brunch.
For some of us shopping online is a no go, but for others, who find crowded malls daunting or who need the extended hours, it can be a godsend. (Just remember to stick to that budget!) If you do brave the stores, having a list of ideas and recipients can help keep the focus.
Mind medications and meals. Don’t forget either. It is a busy time and it can be easy to forget or skip both. DON’T. Continuity with meds is important…as is eating well.
Get some ZZZ’s.
Try to get enough rest. On a good day, lack of sleep can be disruptive but it can be extra hard during a stressful event filled time. If needed, sneak a nap or two.
Talk about it.
If you know this season is hard for you, open up to your close relatives and friends and get them to check in with you occasionally. If you are already seeing a therapist, why not book some extra visits to manage the stress?
If all else fails – if you use these tips and still find yourself sad, anxious, unable to sleep, hopeless, irritable and unable to complete routine tasks – seek help. Your medical or mental health professional may have further ideas to help you cope. It’s ok to not be ok, and ask for support.