How to Actually Manage Every Day Holiday Stress and Keep Your Sanity

Holiday stress

The holiday season is always a time of great excitement, thankfulness, and (hopefully) relaxation, but there are also a variety of reasons why the most wonderful time of the year may leave some feeling stressed out.

During the holidays, it’s important to monitor your stress levels and ensure that you’re having an enjoyable and restful time with your friends and family – not leaving yourself feeling frazzled! To prepare yourself for the holidays, it’s important to understand some common seasonal stressors.

Holiday Stressor 1: Entertaining Guests

If your house tends to be the traditional gathering spot for all your friends and family for a holiday celebration, you may find yourself in the throes of some major stress. Between preparing enough food, decorating, cleaning your rooms, and making sure everyone is having a good time, you may not have much time for yourself! If you’re the entertainer of your friend or family group, make sure to schedule some “you” time to recharge and relax.

Holiday Stressor 2: Living Up to the Hype

Often, people feel a lot of pressure to make the holidays a super memorable experience. You may want your kids to have the perfect and magical Christmas morning. The idea of your whole family gathering around a perfectly arranged Thanksgiving dinner table may seem like a vision you want to bring to life right down to each and every tiny detail.

When trying to make these moments turn into your exact visions of perfection, you may forget to actually participate in all the fun and memory-making! Instead of being involved in the events, you may find yourself in a stressful frenzy trying to keep all the details aligned.

Holiday Stressor 3: Dealing with Unpleasant Family Members

Sometimes the holiday season is the only time you may ever see some of your family members – and for good reason. While you may only see some of your family on occasion due to travel barriers, you may only see some family on the holidays because they’re unpleasant!

Many people have members of the family who cause them to feel stressed for a variety of reasons and knowing that you may have to spend time around these folks can make the holiday season feel particularly stressful.

Holiday Stressor 4: Spending Money

Between the decorations, the elaborate meals, the office parties, the gift shopping lists, and the new family outfits….the holiday season can become incredibly expensive!

People tend to feel a lot of stress around the holidays because it means they’ll be spending much more money than usual. If it’s difficult for you to save extra cash for the holidays during the year, knowing that you may face expectations to spend extra money during this time can cause tension to rise.

Holiday Stressor 5: Experiencing Seasonal Depression

The holidays are often a bright spot to an otherwise depressing point of the year. During the holidays, many folks live in places that are much colder and gloomier which can lead to more holiday stress. You may live in a place that experiences lots of ice and snow. On top of the colder and harsher weather, you are also facing shorter days with less sunlight.

Self Development HQ | How to Actually Manage Every Day Holiday Stress and Keep Your Sanity

Many people experience a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is a period of temporary depression brought on by shorter, gloomier days with less sunlight. Typically, people who experience SAD recover when the weather warms up again and the days lengthen. However, when you’re experiencing SAD in the heart of the holiday season, it can cause a lot of extra stress on top of an already-busy time of the year.

Dealing With Difficult Emotions During the Holidays

While the holidays can be times of great cheer and joy for many people, they can also bring up difficult emotions. Events such as loss (death or divorce) can trigger sadness, and feelings of depression or anxiety are often heightened during this time. Other negative emotions such as hopelessness, anger, loneliness, disappointment, regret, fear, and guilt can often be commonly experienced during the holidays.

Acknowledge How You Feel

Often, when experiencing negative emotions around the holidays, people try to push past their feelings thinking that is the best way to move forward. However, when negative emotions go unaddressed they will reappear somewhere at some point. Pausing to acknowledge your emotions allows you to adequately process them so that you can truly move past them and avoid allowing them to wreak havoc on your life during the holidays.

Plan Ahead

If you are aware that the holidays are going to be a trigger for you, it is important to plan ahead as much as possible. This means knowing your triggers and making plans to avoid or manage them as much as you can. This also means surrounding yourself with the support measures you may need to help you deal with the negative emotions as well. When you are prepared beforehand you won’t be caught off guard by negative feelings and can be proactive rather than reactive.

Focus on the Present

Sometimes we can get lost in the past or become too focused on the future which allows us to tap into negative emotions such as past memories, regret, or anxiety. When you are intentional about staying in the present, it can keep you from veering too far into one direction so that those negative emotions don’t get the best of you. Focusing on the present can help you develop an attitude of gratitude that helps shape a more positive perspective and combats negative emotions in a healthy way.

Healthy Habits

Healthy habits are an important part of dealing with negative emotions during the holiday. The better your mental and physical health are, the better your emotional health will be which will aid you in your ability to deal with negative emotions. Healthy habits include eating healthy foods, engaging in physical exercise, and getting adequate amounts of sleep. These will help you stay in a healthy state so that your mental and emotional health remain strong.

Get Support

There are times when it takes more than our own efforts to deal with difficult emotions during the holidays, and that is completely fine. Being proactive and getting the support you need ahead of time can help you stay on top of your emotions so they do not get the best of you. This may be as simple as having a friend or family member on standby to talk through your feelings with. This might also mean seeking the help of a therapist or counselor who can give you tools and mechanisms to help you cope.

The assistance of a doctor might also be needed to provide medication if the root of emotional issues stems from mental health problems such as depression or anxiety. Getting the support, you need should be prioritized to help you remain well during the holiday season.

Don’t let difficult emotions rob you of the joy of the holiday season. Take the steps necessary to help yourself stay in a good emotional space. By implementing measures such as planning ahead, acknowledging your feelings, getting support, focusing on the present, and adopting healthy habits you can ensure difficult emotions do not get the best of you during the holidays.

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