The definition of holiday is enough to make many of us laugh out loud. A day when no work is done!? Ha! Excuse me, English language, but I’ve got errands to run, presents to wrap, a house to clean, and a multiples meals to make. This season has to be perfect!
Part of the magic of the holidays is their ability to heighten emotions; both positive and negative. This season carries many special memories for many people but the pressures to achieve perfection may have a negative impact on your health. Stress is especially heightened around the holidays. The American Physiological Association reports that almost half of all women report higher stress around the holidays. Many turn to comfort food and alcohol to cope, which isn’t the healthiest way to mange stress.
Avoid the stress
So, how can we avoid the stress and pressures of the holidays? One of the biggest ways is to not stress over perfection. In recent years, the pressure to have a perfect holiday season has been compounded by social media. Places like Facebook and Instagram are flooded with beautiful pictures of people having a “perfect” holiday season. While it may seem like they have it all together, it’s merely a snap shot in time. Don’t let social media paint your picture of reality. Most people don’t post their failures and set backs on Facebook.
Here are a few other tips to help you prevent the pressure. It’s easier to avoid getting stressed out, then to de-stress after.
Don’t abandon healthy habits.
Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt, but it’s okay to indulge responsibly. Try these instead:
- Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
Take a breather.
Sometimes, we need a few moments alone to refresh and recharge. Try finding 15 minutes alone, without distractions. It should help by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner peace. Try one of these:
- Listening to soothing music.
- Getting a massage.
- Reading a book.
Remember what’s important during the holidays
In the hustle and bustle of errands and commercials, billboards, and pop-up ads telling us what to buy, it’s easy to lose track of what the holidays mean to you. Remind yourself daily of what it means to you.
Acknowledge your feelings
It’s okay to be sad, even during the holidays. You can’t force yourself to be happy. Instead of pushing down those feelings, take your time to work through them and let yourself cry if you need to.
Don’t forget to acknowledge the feelings of others and help them if they’re feeling sad.
The holidays can be a lonely time, especially if you’ve recently lost someone close or if you can’t be with loved ones. Seek out community, religious, or other social events. Volunteering can lift your spirits and help you make new friends.
Holidays don’t have to be perfect or “just like they used to be.” As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. It’s okay to keep a few, but be open to new ones as well.
Set aside differences.
We have much more in common than we have in differences. Set aside disagreements till a later time. And be understanding if others get stressed when something goes awry. They’re feeling the holiday stress as well.
Seek professional help if you need it.
Even with these tips, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable, and hopeless. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.