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Handling Holiday Stress

Submitted by Amanda Dumsch December 8, 2014

For many, the holiday season is joy-filled and terrific. Some of us however, experience the holiday blues as we feel loneliness, reflect on the past year, and possibly dread an upcoming and uncertain new year. Rates of depression and anxiety tend to spike during the holiday season. If you are already experiencing stress in other areas of your life, then you may be especially vulnerable to holiday stress this season.

The holiday season often brings twinkling lights, and at the same time long to-do lists and a variety of different stressors:

  • Family: managing family dynamics and expectations, having them over, being separated from them or traveling near or far to be with them can all be anxiety-causing events.
  • Money: financial demands like buying gifts for everybody or travel costs can dampen the holiday spirit tremendously.
  • Kids: how to teach them the true value of giving during the holidays when everything seems to revolve around receiving?

So here are a few tips to help you handle the holiday season this year:

  1. Prioritize. Setting clear expectations for what you want from this year’s holiday season is key. Knowing and managing these expectations will be your first line of defense against stress.
  2. Stick to your budget. If you are always stressed out about buying gifts, change the rules this year. Maybe just one gift per person? Maybe just a limited monetary amount? No gift at all – only the kids? Consider what you want and talk to your family to come to an agreement.
  3. Plan ahead. Make a list of things that need to be done and set aside specific times/days when to do it. Plan the menu and shop for it in one trip.
  4. Be willing to say no and/or ask for help. Do not overwhelm yourself with events and activities you won’t be able to enjoy because you are mentally already three steps ahead. Don’t hesitate to ask others for help!
  5. Don’t forget your own health. Overindulgence during the holidays usually adds to your own stress and guilt. Your immune system might also be lowered from added stress and the arrival of cold/flu season. Try to exercise, get plenty of sleep, listen to soothing music or even get a massage.

At the end, don’t forget what the holidays are about: spending time with loved ones, family or friends. Hope you have an enjoyable holiday season!

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