Do you feel stressed around the holidays? Read below four reasons the holiday season is stressful and ways you can manage it.
1. It gets really busy
The busyness of life does not stop during the holidays, but your to-do list is probably growing by the day. Work parties, friends’ reunions, and family celebrations can fill the calendar leaving little breathing room. Without a plan, preparations and holiday shopping can drive you into a few really stressful weeks. However, with a little bit of planning and strategizing your time, you can go from surviving this month to enjoying it.
- Plan your gift list ahead and set time aside to accomplish holiday shopping by the end of the first week of December – before the malls and Christmas markets get overwhelmingly busy. If possible, go during the morning or afternoon. Minimizing stress from shopping will set you off to an excellent start.
- Some people love shopping for gifts while for others it’s a chore. If you belong to the latter category and the shopping experience is draining, make sure to give yourself a small reward for completing each shopping trip. End the time with a cup of hot chocolate enjoyed in peace, or a delicious pretzel. Something to add a cheer to your day.
- When there are too many gatherings to attend, decide which one is the least important to you and consider declining. Many events are annual, and it is okay to say no one year. Use the time to rest or catch up with some chores that you’re falling behind on.
- At family and friend gatherings, have appropriate expectations. Something will not work out, something will cause a mess, and that’s okay. It’s important to have fun in spite of that and not let the little things drive you into anxiety.
- If you’re hosting and are required to cook, pull out the recipes that you know work well but also do not take a crazy amount of effort to make. There are tons of ideas online on how to make simple appetizers and desserts. The décor and presentation make the simplest food options look amazing.
2. Sometimes it gets really sad
December is a time of Christmas music playing everywhere, lots of lights and sparkly decorations, and a joyful atmosphere. Our friends are posting pictures of holiday activities and talking about being excited for all that is to come. It is expected that we are happy during this time, but for many, it is filled with moments of loneliness and sadness.
Whether it’s the grief of missing a loved one that is not there to celebrate with you, experiencing conflict or separations from friends or family, or dealing with mental illness at a time when everyone expects you to be cheerful, the holiday season can be emotionally difficult. Know that you are not alone in feeling this way and that there are things you can do to help yourself:
- Accept your feelings, allow yourself a time of sadness, and then remind yourself that life goes on, things change, and seasons pass. Consider journaling, it is a great tool.
- Allow others in. Have an honest conversation with a friend who is good at listening to share what is going on in your mind.
- Seek to help others. Focusing on others will be a rewarding experience for you. Go out and volunteer, or treat someone out for coffee.
- Do not be quick to shoot down plans. Go out when you can, laugh a lot, and enjoy yourself to the best of your ability. Soon the holidays will be over and you will go back to the routine. You want to look back knowing that you took the opportunities of rest and fun.
- At the same time, avoid situations where you are certain a conflict will arise. If it will harm your mental health, staying away from situations like that can be the best thing.
3. It can get expensive
An average Canadian is planning to spend around $643 on gifts. Add decorations and other festive expenses and we are looking at a large sum. But does loving your friends and family have to cost so much? Here are some tips on not getting in debt this season:
- Have a budget that will be mindful of your financial situation, but is also realistic. Ideally, you would want to start saving some money aside a few months ahead.
- Make a list of people you are going to give gifts to, and brainstorm gift ideas that stick to the budget. Consider what items you can get in bulk.
- Choose to go with simple packaging and wrapping. As much as a beautifully wrapped gift makes for an Instagram-worthy picture, the wrap ends up being thrown away. There are many videos online with techniques of wrapping gifts with simple and cheap materials.
- Use saved up coupons, points and rewards to lighten up the impact on the wallet.
- Suggest doing a secret Santa with your group of friends or family.
- Remember that you do not need to give expensive gifts. What matters most is that there is thought put behind the present that tells your loved one that you were thinking about them.
4. It can get out of control
With the abundance of sugary and salty foods around at every party, no wonder overeating is so common during the holidays. Sometimes it’s a response to stress, sometimes its lack of discipline, and other times it’s simply being oblivious to the amount of food being consumed. Head into this season with an acknowledgement that there will be lots of opportunities for indulging, and plan ahead.
- Do allow yourself some sweets and drinks, it is a festive time after all.
- Under no circumstances get behind a wheel if you’ve been drinking.
- Limit yourself to one or two drinks per an event.
- When your eyes are getting lost from all the options at a potluck, get a smaller place and look for a few items you really want. Then go for seconds if you’ve finished your plate. A lot of times we take more than we need and end up overeating or throwing away food.
As the season unfolds, remember to slow down and be thankful for the opportunities and people you have in your life. Dwell on the meaning of the holiday season and don’t let the stress overpower what’s really important. Balancing work, life, and family, is hard not only during the holidays but all year round. Visit Healthy Workers for resources on how to juggle your responsibilities as you are taking care of yourself and others during the holiday season.