Happy Holidays or holiday stress?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At least that’s what the popular carols and society at large will say. Sure, there are lots of great things about the season. Twinkling lights everywhere, seeing loved ones and friends and indulging in once-a-year treats are all fun. But it’s also easy to get overwhelmed by the stress of the season. Depression and anxiety soar during the holiday season. Here are some tips to help manage the stress and enjoy the season.

1. Keep your expectations reasonable.

Many people have big ideas for things they would love to do for the holidays. But time and money cause limits that make it too difficult to achieve them all. You probably won’t be able to do everything you want, and that’s okay. Ask your family members which activities and traditions are most meaningful to them. Set your priorities to include the most important holiday activities. You can likely let go of many things on your to-do list.

2. Make a budget and stick to it.

Overspending is easy to do during the holiday season, especially because we have so many people on our shopping list. The cost of the holidays can seriously pinch your budget. If you use credit cards to buy gifts, you’re left with a debt hangover that will cause stress in future months. Remember that your presence matters more than the presents you give. There’s no minimum dollar amount required to do that. You just need to show that you care. If your budget is really limited, consider making homemade gifts or doing a gift exchange with a smaller group of people. You won’t be the only one who will feel relief if there are fewer gifts to buy.

3. Delegate some of the tasks.

Many people, especially women, feel a great deal of responsibility to create the “perfect holiday.” That explains why women are more likely than men to be overwhelmed and stressed out by the holidays. Share the workload and ask other people to help.

4. Take care of your health.

If you’re used to going to the gym after work and now you’re doing holiday related activities instead, you may need to re-evaluate. You may want to try working out on your lunch hour or skipping an occasional holiday outing. In addition to exercise, it’s also important to continue to eat well and get enough rest.

5. Set aside your differences with family members and friends.

Particularly after a contentious election season, a lot of people are still on edge. We may not have much in common with some of our family members. Just the thought of spending time with them may raise your blood pressure. Tell yourself that it’s okay to disagree and that you can set aside your differences for the holiday.

6. Be sure to include time for things that make the holidays enjoyable for you.

Whether it’s making the recipe for Grandma’s famous fudge or seeing a performance of “The Nutcracker,” you should do things that put you in the holiday spirit. Even taking a walk around your neighborhood to look at the pretty lights can help you relax and enjoy the peace of the season.

7. Allow yourself to mourn if needed.

The holidays can be a time of loneliness and pain for many people. You may remember loved ones who have passed away. You may also feel sad if your faraway family members can’t make it home for the holidays. Let yourself feel sad. Many people feel post-holiday depression, too. Make an appointment to talk with a professional if you’re really struggling.

To read more about depression counseling and treatment, click here. If you have additional questions or are interested in setting up a complimentary 30-minute consultation or appointment, do call my office at (941) 306 1235 or send me an email at marilynhalls17@gmail.com.