How to Cope with the Stress of the Holidays

Holiday Stress

No matter how festive and cheerful the “festive season”, it’s impossible to deny that Christmas adds extra stress to many people’s lives.

It’s no surprise that the holidays are associated with stress, worry, and sadness, according to psychology and mental health specialists. Many of us feel overwhelmed by our job responsibilities, financial pressure, spending time with family, and meeting others’ expectations as the Christmas and the New Year approach. Moreover, holidays may be challenging for those who have lost loved ones.

Still, with a few simple strategies, you can reduce Christmas stress and anxiety and emphasise self-care.

Five Strategies to Cope with Holiday Stress

To reduce Christmas stress, it’s important to prioritise self-care. So, let’s get into the best strategies to navigate stress over the Christmas season.

1.      Set Boundaries: Plan a Budget and Stay Organised

One of the best ways to manage financial pressure and lessen holiday stress is to stay on a budget and keep organised. For example, make a spending plan for the holidays and stick to it.

Additionally, schedule shopping, baking, and other holiday tasks on specific days in your calendar so you can take your time getting things done and don’t feel rushed at the last minute.

2.      Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Our social media feeds, particularly during the holidays, are full of pictures of other people’s homes, dinner tables, decorations, and travels that appear to be straight out of a magazine.

If you always compare yourself to others, you may find it hard to be happy with your life, causing you to feel insecure, sad, anxious and lonely.

The best approach is to think about your values and what makes you unique instead of using others to judge your success and happiness. Then, reflect on the work you’ve done and the goals you’ve reached so far, and think of ways to improve and grow.

3.      Work Through Feelings of Grief or Loss

People who are still grieving the loss of a loved may find the holidays especially challenging. If this is your first Christmas without a loved one, know that your feelings of apathy and indifference toward the holiday season are completely normal. It’s also very possible the holiday cheer that is everywhere might make you feel even more sad and hopeless, intensifying loneliness and isolation.

To cope with grief during the holidays, remind yourself that it is normal to feel sad. Communicating your feelings and thoughts can also be helpful for many people. Speak to your family and friends, ask them to share memories and talk about your loved one.

You might want to start a new holiday tradition in memory of a loved one. This helps you remember them, find meaning in holidays, and remind you of the special times you shared with them.

4.      Consider Counselling

If you feel the pressure of the holiday season is too much, seek counselling and/or grief therapy. A qualified counsellor can help you:

  • Identify your triggers
  • Develop healthy coping strategies
  • Understand and accept your feelings
  • Come up with a plan for dealing with your emotional, mental, behavioural, and spiritual responses to loss
  • Address family or relationship conflicts that may intensify over the holidays

5.      Prioritise Rest and Relaxation

It’s fine to take a break from the partying, family gatherings, and tiresome gift-buying if you don’t feel up to it, and in fact, encouraged.

Instead, take a long walk amongst nature, spend some quiet time near water, stay in bed and read a book, do some yoga or mindfulness meditation, and don’t skip your regular exercise routine.

Finally, the holidays are a perfect opportunity to be grateful and spend some time reflecting on your blessings. Coming into the new year, list 3 things are you proud of and 3 things you are grateful for over the past year.  They can be as simple or as significant as you like.

Keep in mind that spending time on yourself over the holidays can boost your mood and energy, helping you manage the season’s stress.

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