Festive stress: It may be a new phrase to some, but it’s a phenomenon that’s all too familiar to many. The holidays can be downright hectic sometimes, causing undue stress between shopping, maneuvering big crowds, choosing gifts for others, worrying about money, cleaning, cooking and dealing with family dynamics. It’s a lot, and it can make some wish the season was over before it started. In fact, 38% of Americans say their stress level rises during the season, with 25% describing themselves as being extremely stressed. It turns out that it may not be the most wonderful time of the year after all.
So what can you do to make sure the holiday season is actually enjoyable? Here are some tips that we think are really valuable:
Plan ahead. Have you ever noticed how Christmas seems to sneak up on you? It’s like we didn’t know it was on the calendar…but we do! Plan ahead by making a gift list for your family members, as well as a list of what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and who will complete it. You’ll have peace of mind and save yourself a lot of unnecessary stress.
Make (and stick to) a budget. A budget generally doesn’t get people excited, but it can help eliminate a huge source of holiday stress if done well. Be reasonable with how much money you allocate for different categories and then hold yourself accountable for not exceeding your limit. There’s no good reason to go into debt just for the sake of the season.
Adjust your expectations and keep perspective. The holidays are meant for spending time with family members and having fun together. You may not love everything about everyone in your family or friend circle, but it’s an appropriate time to be a little more patient with others. Adjust your expectations, focusing on the happy moments and keeping things in perspective. Trust us when we say you’ll be glad you did.
Make time for yourself. The holidays aren’t just about other people — they’re about taking care of yourself, too. Make sure you get enough sleep, incorporate some exercise when you can and practice healthy eating habits (just don’t be too hard on yourself…the holidays are for celebrating, after all). It’s also really important to delegate responsibilities and say no when you need to. Both will help you avoid spreading yourself too thin. Balance is key, so as needed, take a step away from it all to go on a walk or read a book. Sometimes the small things are best to get you to relax and reset.
Face your stress and anxiety. Depression is a serious issue that some individuals deal with around Christmastime, as it can emphasize loneliness or remind people of lost loved ones. Be honest about your emotions and let yourself feel them — then do something that brings you joy. Try socializing with people in your community or volunteering for those in need to help you focus on others. Acknowledging how you feel but also connecting with others can really help turn things around.
Choose to be grateful. Let’s face it: If we want to, we can always find something to complain about. Instead, think about the people and things you’re grateful for and reject any pressure to have the perfect celebration. Laugh, play with your kids, make a mess in the kitchen…whatever you choose to do, let yourself enjoy it! Being thankful is one of the most powerful ways to reduce stress so you can do just that.
We hope you’re already feeling more at ease. Just remember: The holidays are for enjoying! Don’t let the less important things get in the way of the highest priority.