Although the holidays can be an exciting and special time of the year, they can also bring about increased levels of stress. Long-distance travelling, preparing for a large party, navigating crowded stores, the increasingly cold temperatures and unforgiving weather can all contribute to heightened anxiety.
In addition to external factors, internal factors such as unrealistic expectations, social anxiety, financial pressure and loss of sleep can also make the holidays more stressful.
Consider the following tips to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable:
- Manage expectations—Whether they’re your own or someone else’s, it’s easy to get swept up in the “holiday spirit” and plan for more than can reasonably and healthily be accomplished. Carefully assess what you and others expect of the holiday season, and plan accordingly.
- Set a budget—The holidays can be an expensive time of year. Plan your budget in advance, and track it so that you don’t overextend yourself.
- Pace yourself—Only accept responsibilities that you are confident you can manage. Do your best within your limits to prevent overexerting yourself. However, you cannot control everything, so it is also beneficial to plan your coping methods ahead of time to prepare for the event that something goes wrong and you feel stressed or anxious.
- Stay active—People tend to become less active during the holidays and have many opportunities to eat heartily, which can negatively impact your health and self-image. Staying active can not only help to offset hearty meals, but has also been shown to positively impact stress and depression.
- Get social—If the holidays tend to be lonely for you, consider picking up a winter group activity or volunteering at a non-profit to surround yourself with like-minded people during the holiday season.