We are about to welcome the holiday season, which is an exciting but demanding time. The need to bake, shop, clean, entertain and host guests commonly causes persistent feelings of stress, anxiety and even depression. In fact, a poll by the American Psychological Association found that eight out of 10 Americans anticipated stress during the holidays.
Try these stress management tips and tricks for a more pleasant holiday season.
Simplify Holiday Commitments.
Not every year needs to involve the same traditions and rituals. Talk to your family about what is most important, and consider eliminating some of the commitments that don’t feel right anymore. Be open to starting new traditions that are less time-consuming.
Avoid Over-Scheduling Yourself.
You are not obligated to say “yes” to every invitation you receive. If your schedule feels too packed, prioritize the events that are most important, and politely send your regrets to the rest. Or, suggest an alternative time to get together after the holidays, when social commitments have calmed down.
Give Yourself a Break.
It’s perfectly fine to organize a potluck dinner at your house, or bring a prepared dish to a party. It’s not cheating to ask your family members what they want instead of trying to surprise them with “the perfect gift.”
Set a Budget.
It’s very common to feel stressed or anxious because of financial constraints. At the beginning of the season, set a budget for food and gifts, based on what you realistically can afford. Commit to sticking to your budget to avoid financial stress. Look for cheap or free gift alternatives, like making a charitable contribution in someone’s name or giving handmade gifts.
Volunteer Your Time.
Volunteering is a great way to help those in need, and lift your own spirits! You might be surprised at how great you feel after giving your time to an underserved population. Volunteering also sets a wonderful example for your children; consider making it a new family tradition.
Make sure you’re taking some time to meet your own basic needs and recharge your batteries. Eat well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep during your most stressful weeks.
Seek Help If You Need It.
If you truly feel like you cannot manage stress and the related symptoms on your own, seek the consultation of a psychologist or licensed therapist. Meeting with a mental health professional can help you identify the areas causing the most stress and develop coping strategies.
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