The holidays can be full of joy — and, often, stress. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Take some time to identify sources of holiday tension and consider healthy strategies for coping.
Recognize sources of holiday stress
Start by asking yourself:
- How can I tell when I’m stressed? What signs and symptoms do I experience? Common effects of stress on your body include a headache, sleep problems and fatigue, while effects on your mood might include anxiety, restlessness, irritability and a lack of focus.
- What is it about the holidays — a lack of time, the expense, gift‐giving or trying to plan the “perfect” holiday — that causes you stress?
Think about what you can do to ease the biggest sources of holiday stress. For example:
- Pace yourself. Make a list of holiday tasks. Break it down into small steps. Choose your priorities.
- Stay in the present. Be mindful. Take the time to truly enjoy a few holiday moments. Take a deep breath. Listen to all of the words to your favorite holiday song.
- Maintain perspective. Ask yourself whether the issue you’re upset about is really as important as it seems.
- Make a budget. Set a spending limit and stick to it. The most meaningful gifts, such as sending a heartfelt letter or spending time with a loved one, are often the least expensive.
- Say no. You don’t have to attend every party or volunteer at every event.
- Take a break. When the season begins to feel like too much, take time for yourself and unwind.
- Connect with others. Strong relationships can help you manage challenges. Reach out to supportive friends and family.
- Share the workload. Ask your partner, children or extended family to take on some of the holiday‐related responsibilities.
- Stay active. Physical activity can help you manage stress.
- Take time for spirituality. Whether it’s through prayer, meditation or quiet reflection on the things that give your life meaning, focusing on your spirituality might help ease your mind.
- Volunteer. As busy as you are, consider that helping others might make you feel good and put your challenges into perspective.
Don’t forget to be realistic. Life isn’t a greeting card. Manage your expectations for the holidays and focus on the aspects of the season that bring you joy.