Managing Holiday Stress

Welcome to the holidays — when togetherness and celebration are both a gift and a curse.

Although the season can bring fun and happiness with shopping, parties, great food and family, it also can trigger sadness and overwhelming feelings while getting caught up in the activities.

One study found more than 80% of people find the holiday season to be “somewhat” or “very” stressful. Another study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness showed that 64% of people with mental illness report that holidays make their conditions worse.

There are a few things you can do to take care of yourself and those around you.

Slow Down

Too many activities, even if fun, can end in too much holiday stress and leave you feeling drained, rather than happy. It’s OK to say no to invitations. Take time for yourself and relax during the season to be there for your family.

Know Yourself

Recognize your triggers so you can prepare for stressful situations. Is shopping for gifts too stressful? Consider online shopping to remove a bit of the stress. Do you overdo it at every party? Just choose a few; skip the rest.

Don’t Overindulge

Now is the time to be merry, but take it easy. The temptation to overindulge in spending, desserts or alcohol can have consequences that linger long after the season is over.

Take Shortcuts

If sending cards with a personal newsletter stresses you out each year, skip the newsletter or just send cards only to a select few. The same goes for baking — will everyone be upset if you buy treats rather than work in the kitchen for days? At the very least, make less for just a few people and buy the rest.

Limit your Interactions

Be aware of your boundaries. With difficult relatives, it’s OK to set limits, including skipping visits or limiting them.

If you tend to experience loneliness during the holidays, invite a group of friends over. If virtually everyone you know is busy, consider volunteering. It can be extremely fulfilling and diverting.

Take Care of You

Eat healthy, now is not the time to get rundown and tired from too much alcohol and sugar. You need your energy. And don’t forget to do what makes you happy. Whether that means a spa day or time at the gym, you need it. These are the things that keep you present.