Holiday Stress and ways to reduce it. It’s that time of year when the holiday season is in full swing. Many of us are decorating, planning, shopping, entertaining, traveling, and working toward having another memorable end of the year. We are also trying to maintain all of the other responsibilities we carry on a day to day basis: household management, child care, job expectations, schedules, this list can go on and on as well. While many of us see the added extras of the holiday season as exciting and something we only get to do one time a year, this does not take away the added stress this season can also bring about.
Know Your Expectations and Capabilities to Reduce Stress
There are multiple ways we can work toward managing our stress levels better, especially during this hectic time of year. First and foremost, we need to be realistic in our expectations and capabilities. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make holidays “perfect” or try to “top all previous holiday seasons.” This can set us up for disaster. Life is constantly shifting and changing and if we are able to embrace this and make each holiday season one that “fits” our current life circumstances, we spend less time comparing and more time focused on what is important for this moment in life.
Friends and Family Stress
Secondly, spending time with friends and family can add an immense amount of stress to our lives, especially when some of these individuals are ones we do not have much in common with. This stress can decrease if we can try to accept people as they are and remember everyone is a human being and most of us are trying to do the best we can.
Managing and Planning Stressers
A third way in which we can increase our success at managing holiday stress is to plan ahead. While “flying by the seat of your pants” can be a bit exciting when life feels routine and mundane, the holiday season is anything but these things. Due to all of the tasks we are trying to accomplish during the holidays, this is probably not the time to apply the “we’ll just wing it” philosophy. By planning for when shopping will be done, when activities are occurring, and what meals/baking will be needed, we are able to see what is coming and know how to best prepare for those things. By taking time to plan meals and create shopping lists in advance we decrease our chances of miscommunication and last-minute scrambling to find forgotten ingredients.
Manager Your Stress
Finally, it helps to manage our stress when we don’t go “off the rails” with healthy habits we work to keep in place during other times of the year. We work to develop healthy habits (eating well, getting plenty of sleep, engaging in physical activity, etc.) because those things work to help manage our stress. By not continuing these things during high stress times of the year, we are being counterproductive, therefore, increasing the stress we are typically working so hard to manage. Overindulgence adds to our stress levels and also makes us feel guilty. When we have tools that work on a regular basis, why not continue to use them when stressful events are occurring?
As always, if you feel that stress management is something you need a little extra help with whether that be during the holiday season or to better manage life in general, counseling can be an avenue to get assistance and learn some helpful ways to improve your ability to effectively manage stress. I wish you all a happy, healthy, stress-free holiday season!