Managing Holiday Stress

Holidays are not necessarily a time for rest and relaxation. While they can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends and recharge spiritually, often times the season can actually become overwhelming and a source for stress. We all need to understand that holiday stress can be exacerbated without self-care, and self-care doesn’t have to be a bath bomb with candlelight ambiance. Self-care can be practical, daily practices. Here are a few tips that can keep anxiety levels low and spirits high.
Don’t over-commit: From school parties to work parties to potlucks and family get-togethers, this time of year presents more social gatherings than usual. Don’t feel compelled to bake and decorate 40 classroom cupcakes if you don’t have time for it. The pressure created by overextending one self can be enough to deflate even the jolliest person. Do what you can, do what is in your comfort zone, and for anything else, understand it’s okay to say “no.”
Set a budget and make it stick: Shopping can get out of hand, especially when teachers, co-workers, mailpersons, church friends, and work associates generate a lengthy list. There’s a sinking feeling that comes after thinking all presents have been purchased only to add an overlooked teacher to the list. Not only is there the stress to find something nice for these people that you truly appreciate, but added names can get expensive leading to lack of funds or higher credit card debt which contributes to post-holiday depression. Don’t break the bank to “make things happen.” Create a “main” budget for family and close friends, and beyond that consider “symbolic” gifts that aren’t expensive. A few ideas include Christmas ornaments which are beautiful, can be very meaningful and purchased at a budget store; baked goods are particularly yummy and can be purchased or homemade; framed photos or homemade art are personal and can be very inexpensive. Following through with this plan ensures your budget isn’t blown, but that everyone is a beneficiary of your thoughtfulness.
Eat Healthy!: Don’t over indulge in food or alcohol. Don’t deny yourself, but remember moderation is the key. Healthy eating contributes to better mental health, too.
Exercise: A little bit of physical exertion goes a long way; it keeps the blood pumping and enriches healthy eating habits. If you’re already in a dedicated routine, stick with it and don’t find excuses not to exercise. If you’re not in the habit, then take a walk around the block, get fresh air, or try stretching.
Isolation or togetherness: The holidays can be difficult for those who’ve lost loved ones. Even good memories can be painful. Some deal with this pain better alone, however, even if that is the case don’t be afraid to take up invitations to be with family. Many times talking with others and looking through old photos can bring about fantastic memories that muffle the sadness into something manageable.
Taking care of yourself during the holidays with a few key steps can lead to a more meaningful season and a better mind-set to start the new year.

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