Holiday Stress Management_Medium

‘Tis the season to be frazzled. If you’re caught up in the holiday rush, then odds are your stress thermometer’s rising. OK, so let’s hit pause…before you hit red. Here’s how to enjoy a bright holiday season without having a stress meltdown.

First, let’s talk expectations…
Are yours through the roof? How about your family’s? If so, you’re setting yourselves up for stress. Try talking through your expectations for the holiday season. What family rituals are most important? What does each person expect? If “perfect” enters the conversation at any point, those expectations are way too high.

Better yet, make a list together of what each person wants and expects. Then set some priorities. Decide which goals are realistic and which ones are too much. After that, divvy up the list. Who is going to be responsible for what?

If you’re on your own, then just winnow down that list until it’s manageable—and no, we don’t mean manageable by a superhero.

Handling holiday get-togethers…
Social events, office parties, family gatherings…oh boy. Lots of stress points there. We can’t cover all of them, but here are 3 tips that can help get you through the majority:

  • You can say no. You don’t have to accept every invitation. Say yes to ones that are important to you and no to the rest. The world won’t stop turning—honest.
  • Don’t do it all yourself. If you’re hosting, get help and keep it simple. Make it a potluck or pick up prepared food. Ask others to help with the prep and clean-up.
  • Be realistic about family. Holidays can intensify family issues, so this is not the time to try to resolve them. If certain relatives are tough to be around, it’s alright to limit your time with them.

On not breaking the bank…
Nothing shoots up the blood pressure like spending more than you can afford. So, set a budget for gifts (food, entertaining, decorations, travel…sheesh) and stick to it.

Take a 10-minute breather…
If things get to be too much, take 10 minutes off to relax and clear your head. It’ll be easier to refocus after that. Here are some great stress-busters:

  • Walk briskly around the block (or, you know, stomp slowly through the snow).
  • Stand outside and look at the stars.
  • Put your feet up and watch a funny video.
  • Listen to calming music.
  • Drink a cup of tea.

Get support if you’re really feeling bad…
The holidays are “supposed to be happy,” but the truth is, a lot of us feel lonely and sad. Don’t make yourself try to feel joyful if that’s not how you feel. And if stress, anxiety, or depression are severely affecting you, get professional help.

Face it; the holidays may not go as you plan (well, that’s probably a given), but hey, that’s life. If you can roll with it and keep your sense of humor, you’ll find joy in the season with a whole lot less stress.