I don’t know about you, but my “holiday season” starts the day after Thanksgiving. We cut down our Christmas tree, start planning the Christmas Eve menu, and start our Christmas shopping. This year, my mom even asked me to wrap some presents she already had over Thanksgiving weekend! Talk about staying on top of things!
The holiday season brings joy, happiness, merriment, and cheer. It also brings stress. Studies have shown that the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the most stress-filled time of the year-with 38% of people feeling an increase in stress around the holidays (according to a study done by the American Psychology Association).
The holidays are supposed to be fun and filled with love, laughs, family, and joy. So how to do you make sure stress doesn’t ruin your holiday season?
There are a lot of things that can cause stress during the holidays. Stress is typically caused by events or occurrences that make people feel angry, helpless, lonely, sad, or frustrated. Just like a lot of things, stress affects everyone differently. Your symptoms could range from fatigue, headaches, irritability, and trouble sleeping; to high blood pressure, heartburn, sweating, dizziness, hyperventilation, and full-blown panic attacks. The last thing you want during the holiday season is to be feeling sick and unable to enjoy yourself!!
Causes of Holiday Stress
- Travel: it is always more crowded and stress-filled around the holidays
- Shopping: from the crowds at store, to staying within a budget, to finding the “perfect” gift, shopping can become very stressful
- Family: not all family relationships are stress-free, and seeing family around the holidays can results in disagreements and fighting
- Hosting: whether you are hosting holiday parties or hosting family from out-of-town, this causes extra strain
- Doing Too Much: packing your schedule full before taking time off work or school and not taking time to catch your breath
- Shorter Days/Less Daylight: the days are shorter around the holidays, which sometimes causes people to try to fit everything into daylight hours…something that isn’t always possible
- Being Alone: loneliness is a major cause of stress no matter what time of year, but it gets harder around the holidays when everyone is with their loved ones. If you can’t make it home for the holidays, or have recently lost a loved one, be sure to stay on top of how you are feeling and take time for yourself
Ways to Eliminate Holiday Stress
- Plan Ahead: schedule travel on less-busy days. Try to leave a little earlier and leave a few days later than normal, if possible.
- Shop Smart: Make a list every time you go out. Set a budget ahead of the holiday season. This prevents over-spending and time-wasting. If you want to avoid crowds, shop online! You can even buy groceries online! Check out Instacart, or see if your local grocery stores have a delivery service (such as Peapod from Stop and Shop).
- Delegate: allow others to help you-you can’t do everything yourself! Delegate tasks to family members or friends to relieve the burden on yourself.
- Exercise: relieve stress in the gym! Stick to your normal workout schedule as closely as you can. Bring your workouts inside if you like to run, but it’s too cold. Take classes, work with a trainer, or workout with friends!
- Nutrition: watch what you are eating. Stress can lead to stress-eating which can cause subsequent weight gain…which can cause more stress! It’s a vicious circle. Alcohol and caffeine can also affect your mood, so don’t overdo it.
- Make Time For Yourself: plan a day for yourself to rest, relax, and recharge. This can be in the middle of the holiday season or directly after. For example, every year I take a Friday off in mid-December, and I use it to prepare for Christmas and the Christmas party I host!
The holidays only come once a year, and it really is a beautiful, joyful time. This holiday season, remember to take a step back, take some deep breaths, and just enjoy yourself. Let’s make this season completely stress-free!