Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year give us an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun of family holidays and get together, though, so comes the stress.
Even for the most festive types of people, the expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season. With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays.
There are many ways you can do to minimize your stress and anxiety during the holiday season. Allow yourself to truly enjoy family holidays with these tips.
1. Take it Easy, Have Your "Me" Time and Delegate
The APA reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. 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. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes.
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 family members to take on certain tasks.
2. Set a Budget, and Stick to It
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. It’s unavoidable, but 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.
3. Exercise, Stop Thinking and Just Do It
The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
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.
4. Stay Smart, Healthy Snacks Before a Meal and Get Plenty of Sleep
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but as the Mayo Clinic directs - 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.
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack 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.
5. Choose Your Battles, Set Your Issues Aside and Save It for Another Day
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural - not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else 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.
Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays. If you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day.
Self-care is a conscious choice and this is even more true during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.