Are you like me? I love the holidays and the smell of pinecones, ginger and cinnamon, but managing holiday stress can be overwhelming. Christmas wraps me up in a warm blanket of joy, twinkling lights, and the laughter of loved ones, with bright lights and festive cheer. The holiday season can be a joyous time filled with love, laughter, and celebration. However, for many of us, it can also bring stress, anxiety, and even a touch of the holiday blues. In this blog post, lets explore some practical tips to ensure you navigate the festivities gracefully, prioritising your mental well-being.
The Holiday Cheer and Despair
A study in 2021-22 found that in December 2021, there was a significant surge in anxiety and depression levels, and life satisfaction took a dip from November that year, reaching the lowest satisfaction levels since March when lockdowns were in effect.
I mean, think about it – expectations coming from every direction! Family, friends, colleagues – Secret Santa, presents, and the grand Christmas dinners. It’s a lot to handle, and it can feel like you’re caught in this whirlwind of festive chaos. Trust me, you’re not alone in feeling this way. It’s like a festive double-edged sword, and the struggle is real.
The holiday season has this knack for making us count every penny, right? It’s like this juggling act of wondering if the festive expenses are really worth it. With all the regular responsibilities on our plate, Christmas sometimes feels like that unexpected bill we weren’t quite prepared for, with way too much stress.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for a great get-together, but let’s be real – doesn’t it feel like the whole holiday thing has become a bit too commercial? I mean, I love my people, but I want to be intentional about who I share my time with. Not everyone in the crew sparks joy for me, you know? The idea of enduring over 4 hours with that particularly onnoxious and patronising aunt brings a whole lot of holiday stress. Can you relate?
1. Set Realistic Expectations
Managing holiday stress can be hard. It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday hype, but remember, perfection is not the goal. So, instead of chasing some holiday ideal, why not roll with the imperfections? Manage your holiday stress. Focus on those sweet, unscripted moments that bring genuine joy. That’s what it’s all about – the real, unfiltered stuff. Remember your own goals and ambitions. Oh, and a quick heads-up: don’t let the 12 days of Christmas turn into a health and financial rollercoaster. Start with the end in mind, and don’t let those flashy Christmas displays or Black Friday sales sway you off course.
- Have a family meeting to set goals for the season.
- Agree on what activities you want to partake. Get everyone on the same page for what will happen.
- Set a budget for spending over the holidays.
- Set aside money for what you need to take care of in January. It can be easy to get carried away with the holiday spending.
2. Manage Finances Wisely
If you have been following the advice from this blog, you know that you ought to follow a plan to come out financially healthy. Don’t let the holidays derail your progress. Financial stress can cast a shadow over the holiday season, making it hard to manage the holiday stress. Stick to a budget, get creative with gift-giving, and consider experiences over material possessions. Consider the intention behind your giving and give mindfully. January is full of people returning gifts, so don’t be lured into mindless spending.
- Set a realistic budget.
- Limit your spending to immediate members of the family. Let go of the urge to get something for everyone you know.
- Try some budget-friendly presents, if you can. Do you have the skill to bake some cookies?
- Offer the gift of your time, e.g. a night of babysitting for a couple with small children.
- Christmas markets often have great, inexpensive gifts if you cant get away with not gifting at Christmas.
3. Embrace Healthy Habits
The holidays can totally mess with your health agenda. I mean, think about it – there’s food everywhere, from the wild parties to those end-of-year drinks. Calories sneak up on you real quick. Enjoy festive treats in moderation, stay physically active, and maybe ease up on the booze a bit. Just don’t go full-on Grinch mode, avoiding all the fun just to stick to your health goals. Don’t be that guy (we all know them) who’s too strict during the holidays. The holidays are stressful enough without this drama.
A balanced approach to health can positively impact your overall mood. Have fun but be mindful of the calories. Balance with days of fasting if that is something that fits in your lifestyle and health plan. Remember to always consult with your healthcare provider if you are going to deviate from your regular eating habits.
- Not able to make it to the gym because of travel? Why not try some at-home strength training before everyone wakes up?.
- How about encouraging some of your family/ friends to take a walk after dinner?
- Take a stroll to the Christmas markets.
- At dinner, eat mostly whole foods and limit processed foods
- Skip one or two pastries and only eat half the dessert.
- When you do eat, prioritise protein and eat sufficient food so you avoid snacking
- Have at least a 12+ hour break from eating once a day
4. Stay Connected
While the holidays can be a time of togetherness, they can also bring feelings of loneliness. As much as the imposed social togetherness of the holidays may be stressful, it is nice to have people that you love around you. Take time as well to think of those not as fortunate. Reach out to friends and family, attend social gatherings, and volunteer within your community.
Its amazing how connecting with others can provide a sense of belonging and give some good endorphins to lift your mood. Be mindful, however, and accept only the activities that truly align with your well-being. Avoid overextending yourself and steer clear of situations that may lead to high tension and stress.
- Find a cause in your local area and volunteer.
- Collect old but useful items from co-workers or family and donate to shelters or charities.
- Collect canned foods for shelters and food banks.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen, get the whole family involved.
5. Prioritize Self-Care
Amidst the holiday chaos, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Schedule moments alone, engage in activities that bring you joy, and ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s vital to maintaining mental well-being. Remember that you don’t have to conform to social pressure, this is key to managing holiday stress. Get right in your mind about your intentions. Life will flow much better when your actions align with your intent. Take a holiday to recharge your batteries, and give you energy for the new year.
- Set aside some time for a massage/ facial during the holidays. Make it connected by inviting a person who brings you smiles, be it a husband, daughter, sister, or favourite aunt.
- Carve out a me- day and do what you enjoy without having to engage others if that is something you enjoy.
- Go for a walk and take in some nature, even if its cold outside.
- Meditate early in the morning before anyone gets up.
As we move into the holiday season, keep in mind the importance of your mental well-being. Manage this stressful holiday time. Take a moment to set realistic expectations for yourself and others, allowing for a more stress-free experience. Be careful with your finances and make thoughtful and budget-friendly choices when it comes to gifts and celebrations. Keep healthy habits to support your overall well-being during this festive period and stay connected with loved ones. Attend social gatherings, only where it uplifts you and fosters meaningful connections. Prioritize self-care amidst the hustle and bustle, making sure to carve out time for activities that bring you genuine joy and relaxation.