Coping With Stress Around the Holidays

With the rush to purchase gifts, prepare family meals, decorate the house and make everything perfect, the holidays can be stressful and detrimental to one’s health. Your holidays may bring with them additional stress, sadness or anxiety. Here, we offer some simple tips to help you minimize the stress that can accompany the holidays.

  1. Be real about your feelings. If you have lost a loved one or simply can’t be with friends or family this year, understand it’s normal to be sad or grieving. Take time to share your feelings or cry.
  2. Change your expectations. Things don’t have to be perfect or just like previous years. Families change and grow, as do traditions and celebrations. Choose a few rituals to hold on to, but also think about new ways to keep the holidays festive. If the entire family can’t get together, for example, consider doing a video call before or after dinner.
  3. Manage your budget. Before you go shopping for gifts and holiday meals, decide how much you can really afford to spend, then stay within that budget. Consider other alternatives to expensive gift-giving, such as starting a family gift exchange or Secret Santa, giving handmade gifts, or even donating to a charity, like United Way of Broward County, in someone’s name.
  4. Plan ahead. Create a shopping list and meal menus. Enlist help for meal preparation and cleanup. Take certain days for shopping and baking, and also include downtime for connecting with friends and participating in activities like exercise.
  5. Accept people as they are. Although someone may not live up to all your expectations, don’t let the holidays become a time for argument and grievances. Put aside differences and focus on good times, memories and plans for the future. If things do go awry, try understanding that others may be feeling holiday stress.
  6. Don’t say yes when you need to say no. Avoid feeling overwhelmed or even resentful. Whenever possible, consider turning down invitations to certain projects, events or activities. People will understand if you can’t join in on everything.
  7. Keep up with healthy habits. Eat healthy, moderately sized meals. Get enough sleep. Keep physical activity in your daily routine. Avoid stress-producing influences, such as the news or social media and the use of alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Try stress-relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation or yoga.
  8. Take time for yourself. Spend as little as 15 minutes alone doing something you enjoy – reading, crafting, listening to music, taking a walk, napping. Just a few minutes without distraction can refresh you to handle whatever comes your way.
  9. Reach out to others. Talk to friends or family members about your stress, by phone, text or video chat. There are also online support groups, social media sites and virtual events where you can share your feeling with others, get support and make friends. Remember: It’s OK to not be OK. If you are feeling deep pain, stress and depression, professional guidance is also available by calling 2-1-1.

Recognize triggers, like financial or personal pressures, so you can take steps to prevent stress before and during the holidays. With planning, positive thinking and some easy-to-follow steps, you can make the holidays a special time for you and your loved ones.