While the holiday season is meant to be a time of joy and celebration, it can unfortunately become a source of stress and anxiety for many people. In fact, 3 in 5 Americans feel their mental health is negatively impacted by the holidays.
The pressure to have a perfect holiday season, the obligation to attend numerous social events and gatherings, and the possibility of difficult emotions and memories surfacing can all contribute to increased stress. The COVID-19 pandemic may also be adding to this stress, as you may be worried about your health and the health of your loved ones, or your holiday plans may look different than usual.
Tips for Managing Holiday Anxiety and Stress
If you’re feeling anxious or stressed out during the holidays, here are a few practical tips to help you manage your emotions and keep your cool.
1. Set Realistic Expectations
The holidays don’t always go according to plan, so make sure that you set realistic expectations for yourself when it comes to how much you can get done in a certain amount of time. Don’t try to fit too much into one day – instead spread out your tasks over several days so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Maybe even enlist friends or family members to help out with tasks like gift wrapping or cooking dinner! This way everyone can share in the workload and enjoy the festivities together.
2. Take Time for Yourself
It's important to remember that self-care is essential during the holidays—it's just as important as taking care of other people. Take breaks throughout your day or week where you can relax and unwind alone or with friends who understand how stressful this time of year can be. Do things like take bubble baths, indulge in cozy sweaters, or watch movies—whatever helps you feel relaxed will help keep your stress levels down.
3. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries means knowing your limits and preparing to speak up and say no in a calm and direct way. This might involve saying no to certain invitations, setting limits on the number of events you attend, or taking time for yourself to relax and recharge. Setting boundaries also involves being clear and direct with others about your needs and limits. It can be helpful to have honest and open communication with loved ones about your boundaries so that everyone can enjoy the holiday season without feeling overwhelmed or stretched too thin.
4. Stick To Your Routines
The holidays often throw our regular routines out of whack; from late nights spent shopping or partying with friends, our days get turned upside down pretty quickly! Try sticking to your normal daily routine as much as possible; this will help keep structure in your life which can reduce holiday anxiety and help manage stress levels. It also gives you something familiar in an otherwise hectic season!
5. Take Care of your Gut
The holiday season is a time of indulgence, with an abundance of delicious and tempting treats and dishes available at every turn. While it's okay to enjoy some of these foods in moderation, it's important to remember the role that nutrition plays in regulating mood and overall mental well-being. Try to focus on nourishing your body with balanced meals and healthy snacks. Avoid skipping meals and try to stick to a regular eating schedule to help manage your mood and energy levels, and remember to stay consistent with any medications, vitamins, or supplements you may be taking.
6. Seek Support
Consider reaching out to a trusted friend or family member to talk about how you are feeling. It can also be helpful to seek support from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. There are also many support groups and hotlines available that can connect you with others who may be going through similar experiences. These free resources include hotlines to connect you with the mental health support you need.
The holidays are supposed to be fun and enjoyable—not stressful or overwhelming. To ensure that this holiday season is as stress-free as possible, remember these tips for managing your holiday anxiety: make time for self-care; set realistic expectations; make time for self-care; set boundaries; stick to your routines; remember the connection between mood and food, and seek support. By following these tips, we hope that this year's holiday season is one full of joyous memories!