The winter holidays are a relaxing time of the year for many people. Opportunities to take a break from work, enjoy tasty food, and connect with family and friends all abound during the holiday season. However, you aren’t alone if your stress levels spike during the holidays or you tend to start feeling strange, sad, or isolated.
Practice these 11 tips for de-stressing during the holidays and get back to feeling merry and bright.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
It can be easy to get wrapped up in bickering over old family drama, worrying about which napkins to choose for the holiday party, or agonizing over the little details when you’re especially anxious. A simple way to manage holiday stress is to remind yourself, “don’t sweat the small stuff.” You won’t agree with all of your relatives’ political proclamations at the family dinner, nor can you always prevent your cat from climbing into your tree and getting stuck. Ask yourself — will this matter in an hour? A day? A week? If the problem is small, take a deep breath and try to let it go.
Find Time for Yourself
Shopping for gifts, cooking, cleaning, and planning can be overwhelming, let alone when you’re trying to juggle them all at once. Make sure to schedule time for self-care. This could mean taking time to read a book, lie down for a few minutes, or take a bubble bath, among millions of other examples. Managing holiday stress is a lot easier when you have something to escape to or fall back on when things get busy.
Keep Up Healthy Habits
The winter holidays are filled with tasty treats, and it’s great to enjoy them with friends and family. However, don’t eat all the fudge on the dessert table just yet. You can actually alleviate holiday stress by refraining from overindulging and keeping up healthy habits like going for walks or hitting the gym. Maintaining your routine is essential for good mental health, so don’t stop just because of the holidays.
Try Meditation Exercises
There are many guided meditation exercises online you can follow if you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed. Releasing tension from your body can help you achieve more mental clarity. Some meditation exercises are as simple as deep breathing combined with positive thoughts.
Get Some Vitamin D
Around 5% of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder in any given year, which is a specific form of chemical imbalance brought on by changing circadian rhythms. Studies show that sunlight can significantly improve your mood if you have seasonal depression, so spending a few minutes outside each day while the sun is still up can make a huge difference.
Soothe Your Senses
A tried-and-true technique for managing stress is listening to music. Have you ever thought about utilizing your other senses to de-stress? Spend time with your pets to soothe your sense of touch, light incense or candles with calming scents, and hang up simple reminders around your space to remind you to take time to breathe.
Learn to Say No
A chief cause of holiday stress can come from feeling like you’re overextending yourself. You don’t need to bake for every holiday bake sale your kids have coming up AND volunteer to organize the office Secret Santa AND cook for your in-laws this season. Decide what really matters to you and practice saying “no thanks” to obligations or offers you know will cause more chaos.
Plan, but Stay Pragmatic
If you’re too gung-ho about your plans for the upcoming new year, you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. It’s healthy to set up goals and plans — but keep them realistic. That way, you can have the satisfaction of actually achieving what you’re setting out to do.
Reach Out and Connect
The holidays can be difficult for those who live by themselves or are missing their loved ones. If you’re feeling blue, reach out to a friend or family member to connect. You might be making their holidays better, too, and it never hurts to share extra time with someone you love.
Make a Difference for Others
If you’re feeling low, something that can build up self-worth and holiday merriment is helping others. Volunteer at your local soup kitchen, donate toys or coats to charities like Toys for Tots, or sign up to help out at your town’s animal shelter. The holidays are about caring, and caring for others can leave you feeling happier.
Ask For Help
While the tips above can help you manage holiday stress more effectively, nothing is as good as medical advice. Never be afraid to seek professional help, whether through individualized therapy treatment or support groups. Sometimes professional help is what you really need to feel like yourself again and get back to enjoying the holidays the way you used to.
The holidays don’t have to be a time to feel stressed, despondent, or lonely. If you’re looking for individual therapists or anxiety support groups in Bucks County, PA, and the surrounding areas, contact Hope Springs Behavioral Health today.