The holiday season can be a time of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time when many of us succumb to the stress of expecting the “perfect” holiday. Just how stressed do you get during the holidays? A recent poll indicated that 41% said they find the holidays stressful, rating it right up there with asking the boss for a raise. Money was the number one cause of stress, and women were more likely than men to feel stressed-out over the holiday season. But the good news is that, in spite of it all, 62% said they still really look forward to the holidays. Here are a few ideas for keeping your holidays as stress-less as possible.
1. Remember that holiday activities can be enjoyed throughout the whole season rather than focusing on just one day. That way you can lessen the stress and really enjoy the time with family and friends.
2. Try to pace yourself during the holidays. Keep things manageable and set realistic expectations about what you can and cannot do. Go for quality over quantity.
3. Find some enjoyable activities that you can do at little or no cost, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, or making cookies with the children.
4. Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
5. Limit your alcohol. Remember that excessive drinking or eating will only increase feelings of sadness or depression.
6. Only about 25% live in what is considered a traditional family. Death, separation, or divorce, can cause many to feel out of step with the holidays. Include those you know who may be feeling sad or lonely in your holiday activities.
7. If you’re experiencing the holiday blues, acknowledge your feelings and don’t repress them. Rather, seek out social support and companionship, such as through your church or a community group.
8. Don’t abandon your healthy habits during the holidays. Try to manage your calorie intake, include some form of exercise, and get plenty of sleep. Exercise remains one of the best anti-depressants around.
9. Remember to save some time for yourself to recharge your batteries! Enjoy some quiet time listening to music, reading, meditating or in prayer. Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.
10. Finally (and most important), remember the spirit of the holidays. Christmas is the season of genuine love and sharing. New Year’s is a time of new beginnings; a time to let go of the old, forget the past, and to rededicate our energies and our talents to another year. And finally, New Year’s is a reminder that, with every ending, there is a new beginning.
Samaritan Interfaith inspires hope, facilitates change and creates lasting impact on individuals, families and faith-based organizations. We offer Spirit led, compassionate care through counseling, education and consulting.