Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Reducing Stress during the Holiday Season

Though they are advertised as the most pleasant seasonal events of the year, the holidays can actually be some of the most stressful times for many people.  Much of the media during these times insists that everyone feel jolly, happy, joyful and thrilled to no end about spending money they don't have in order to satisfy the gift-giving season.  Unfortunately, this expectation is unrealistic for those who find the holidays (and the time of year) depressing and difficult.

That's why self acceptance is very important during the holidays.  If you don't feel all that thrilled about the holidays, you don't have to hide it, but you can find ways to try to make the very best of a time when your emotions are not in alignment with the external world's demands.

First of all, stop to think about what it is you personally need during the holidays.  Is it just relaxation?  Time with your family?  Some kind of traditional event that makes things feel right for you?  Sometimes the holidays get even harder when we feel pulled in all directions by the demands of others who are trying to get their needs met as well.  It's important to find a balance and make sure you are not getting spread too thin.  Saying no to some things is okay, and saying yes to your own needs can be a part of the formula for a good holiday.

Money is always a stressful factor during the holiday season as well.  It's okay to make it clear to others that you need to limit your spending, so be sure to speak up.  Suggesting that the family or office crew draw names to reduce the number of gift spending is always wise and helps reduce financial worries.

If the holidays aren't your thing, try to plan some events that feel more in tune to what you need, be they non-holiday themed movies, concerts, trips, books, socials with friends or just solo getaways that reduce your exposure to the media hype and promotions.

Don't be surprised if there are others out there that feel the same way and would love to get together with you to do something "non-festive".  Check in with some of your friends and family and see if any are up to the task of finding something that can remove you in any small way from triggers that contribute to your depression and stress during this time of year. 

Here are some ideas of things you can do to cope with your stress and anxiety during the holidays:

*Go hiking or snowshoeing which pulls you into nature and away from media hype
*Go see a non-holiday themed movie during the day when crowds are low
*Go for a walk or bike ride where festive decorations and music are not heard
* Limit your spending by announcing to others you plan to give limited gifts this year
*Say no if you need to when others demand you fly or travel to see them for the holidays
*Be sure to share and delegate shopping and other tasks to your spouse or other relatives
*Explain to children you are not made of gold and they can't have everything they want
*Above all, take time to sit down now and then to relax and take a breath.

Thanks to William Brawley for the lovely holiday photo