7 Tips for Holiday Stress Management
The holiday season, with its festive spirit and joyous celebrations, is a time that many look forward to. However, for some, it can bring about a considerable amount of stress and anxiety leading to unhealthy coping practices. With a little holiday stress management, this time of year can be less challenging and more fulfilling.
Why Do the Holidays Cause Stress and Anxiety?
The holiday season, though filled with warmth and togetherness, can be a double-edged sword for mental health. The pressure to create picture-perfect celebrations, meet expectations, and navigate family dynamics can contribute to heightened stress levels. Financial strains associated with gift-giving and travel, coupled with the disruption of routines, can further add to the burden.
In fact, a 2022 poll by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that 31% of adults say they expect to feel more stressed this upcoming holiday season compared to last. This is an increase of 9 percentage points since 2021. Potential drivers of stress include worries like affording holiday gifts (50%) and meals (39%) and finding and securing holiday gifts (37%).
The expectation to maintain a festive spirit, coupled with societal pressures to embody the holiday spirit, can lead to the phenomenon known as “holiday blues.” It’s essential to recognize that it’s okay not to feel merry and bright all the time. Validating one’s emotions and acknowledging the complexities of this season can be the first step in alleviating some of the stress of the holidays.
The Unhealthy Ways We Deal with Stress
In the face of holiday stress, some individuals turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Substance abuse, such as excessive alcohol or drug consumption, is a concerning trend. Plus, many holiday parties include alcohol, making it easier to just drink away feelings. One of the quotes about holiday stress illustrates that point: “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas. But if the white runs out I’ll drink the red.”
Other unproductive strategies include overeating, overspending, or withdrawing from social interactions. It’s crucial to recognize these patterns and seek healthier alternatives.
The allure of escapism during stressful times is understandable. That’s why it’s essential to address the root causes of stress rather than resorting to temporary relief. Seeking professional help or confiding in a trusted friend or family member can help break the cycle of unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Get the help you need to begin your journey to recovery.
7 Tips for Holiday Stress Management
- Prioritize Self-Care: Amid the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Set aside time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a long bath, or going for a walk, prioritize self-care to recharge your mental batteries.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Embrace imperfections and set realistic expectations. Not every moment needs to be a Hallmark movie scene. Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the holidays without the pressure of creating a flawless experience.
- Create a Budget: Financial stress is a common holiday concern. Plan your budget ahead of time, and stick to it. Consider creative and meaningful gift options that won’t break the bank. Remember, the thought and effort behind a gift often mean more than its price tag.
- Practice Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness techniques into your daily routine. Whether it’s deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply being present in the moment, mindfulness can help alleviate stress and promote a sense of calm.
- Delegate Tasks: You don’t have to do it all alone. Delegate responsibilities and share the workload with others. Whether it’s meal preparation, decorating, or organizing events, involving friends and family can make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.
- Learn to Say No: It’s okay to decline invitations or skip certain activities if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Prioritize your well-being and focus on activities that align with your values and bring you joy.
- Connect with Others: Don’t isolate yourself during the holidays. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups. Sharing your feelings and experiences can provide emotional support and help put things into perspective.
Other Helpful Strategies for Holiday Stress Management
As we delve deeper into effective stress management during the holidays, it’s worth exploring some additional strategies that can complement the tips mentioned above.
Setting clear boundaries is crucial for maintaining mental well-being during the holiday season. This may involve communicating openly with family and friends about your limits, whether it’s regarding social engagements, gift exchanges, or other traditions. Establishing boundaries helps prevent feelings of overwhelm and ensures a more enjoyable holiday experience.
The pursuit of perfection during the holidays can be a significant source of stress. Embracing imperfection allows for a more authentic and relaxed celebration. Consider letting go of the notion that everything has to be flawless and accept that some mishaps or deviations from the plan are inevitable. In doing so, you create space for genuine moments and connections.
Reflecting on Gratitude
Amidst the chaos of the holiday season, taking time to reflect on gratitude can be a powerful stress management tool. Keep a gratitude journal and jot down the things you are thankful for each day. This practice shifts your focus from stressors to positive aspects of your life, fostering a sense of contentment and perspective.
Incorporating regular physical activity into your holiday routine can have profound effects on stress levels. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters, and provides a healthy outlet for stress. Whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a workout at the gym, find an activity that brings you joy and makes you feel good.
What to Do When the Holidays Get Stressful
In a 2022 press release about the stress of the holidays, APA President Rebecca W. Brendel, M.D., J.D, advised, “We can all benefit by enjoying moments that bring meaning and belonging, but those times are different for each of us. It’s also okay to opt out of some or all events if they bring more stress or distress than joy. There is no one right way to spend the holiday time of year.”
If you find it challenging to manage stress during the holidays, seeking professional help is a proactive step. Treatment centers, such as those offered by Aliya Health Group, offer comprehensive support for individuals struggling with mental health issues.
Holiday Stress Treatment at Aliya
While the holidays can be stressful, implementing these tips and seeking support when needed can make a significant difference. At Aliya Health Group, we know people need different kinds of support, so our treatment centers offer a full continuum of care that includes:
- Medical detox and sub-acute detox
- Inpatient treatment
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient treatment
- Sober living residences
- Aftercare plans
Our experienced and compassionate team is dedicated to helping you regain control of their mental well-being. If you or someone you know is struggling with the stress of the holidays, don’t hesitate to explore the resources available with Aliya Health Group.