Stress and the Holidays: How to Manage it and Enjoy the Season

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Stress and the holidays: Two things that almost always go hand in hand in some way or another! The holidays are supposed to be a relaxing and joyous time of the year, but for many people, they are anything but. Especially in 2020, the anxiety of the pandemic and other world events has mounted to critical levels. So, how can we reclaim the holiday season’s happy spirit? Here are some ways to bust stress and enjoy our families and vacation days!

Remember that it’s okay to be stressed or sad!

The first step toward reducing anxiety is to acknowledge it. When we repress our feelings, we’re more likely to increase our stress levels. If you’ve lost a loved one this year or feel unable to visit family during the holidays, remember that it’s normal to cry and grieve. Be kind to yourself and take time to reflect and process your emotions. 

Those of us who suffer from depression often have a worse time during the holidays. Others experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, which can be triggered by staying indoors and having low vitamin D levels. (Many of us already have it from quarantine!) Enjoy fresh air whenever possible, and be sure that you are eating a healthy diet and getting exercise.

Plan and reduce your spending.

Stress and the holidays really show up when it comes to shopping! Shopping for gifts is already stressful, and having to do so in socially-distanced stores is even more so. You might also be struggling financially and worried about affording gifts. Remember, the holidays don’t require consumerism to be fun! Swap homemade gifts with your family, or purchase low-cost yet meaningful presents. 

Plan out your holiday budget and try to avoid the marketing pressure to buy, buy, buy. This will minimize the stress of low cash flow or worrying about your spending. Plus, you can focus on creating meaningful memories with your family rather than running from store to store.

Manage your time.

The holidays are a hectic time. You’re trying to juggle family time, end-of-year work projects, house cleaning and decorating, cooking, and a million other things. Remember that you need time to sleep and unwind! Don’t pack your day so full that you feel frantic. Build-in time to eat, sleep and take care of yourself. Ask for help if you need it, and don’t feel like you have to “keep up with the Joneses” in terms of holiday festivities.

Also, don’t be afraid to say no! The holiday season often comes with a lot of demands, and it’s easy to feel the pressure of multiple obligations. This year more than ever, it’s crucial to allow extra time for self-care. Prioritize the people and activities that really matter to you.

Stay connected and communicative.

Family gatherings and office Christmas parties may be off the table, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be social. Think outside the box for holiday activities. For example, you can host a Zoom meeting or Facebook watch party for gift-opening with your family. Many people are coordinating times to watch their favorite holiday movies and chat throughout them.

Try not to wallow in loneliness. If you’re feeling isolated from friends or family, tap into your community. Local churches, community centers, and support groups are now hosting virtual events. You can also volunteer in COVID-safe ways, such as by dropping off groceries for needy families. Giving back is an excellent way to relieve stress and help your community heal from the pandemic as well as keeping your eyes on what really matters most.

The Holidays Don’t Have to be so Stressful

If the pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that we should prioritize our families and self-care rather than getting caught up in the whirlwind of life. This holiday season, take time and space to reflect. You don’t need to spend hours at the mall shopping for gifts or struggling to put together an enormous turkey dinner. What really matters is togetherness (even virtually), celebration, and relaxation. With that in mind, you can enjoy the season and finish 2020 well!

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