While the holidays are one of the most joyous times of the year, they can also be the most stressful. We look forward to spending time with our families, celebrating and reflecting on the end of another year, but all of the activity and social interactions can lead to an increase in stress.
Stress is a natural consequence of having too much to do; shopping, managing the budget, cooking, decorating, hosting parties, attending special events, balancing home and work, traveling, negotiating family relationships, watching over elderly parents and neighbors and most importantly taking time to taking care of ourselves.
Managing holiday stress will bring greater enjoyment of the season to you and your loved ones. Follow these ideas to de-stress your holidays.
Understand time is limited. Make choices about what is most important to you and put your energy there. Accept help from others, especially when it comes to things that are on your “nice-but-not-mandatory” list. Even better, delegate those tasks to someone else who might be looking to play a larger role in the festivities. It’s an opportunity to make shared memories and to assist others in starting new traditions in their own families.
People often forget the presents that they received, but they rarely forget the memories that were made. Allow others to have the opportunity to make memories within your family.
Learn to say no. This is always difficult, but knowing what’s important to you will help. If someone offers an opportunity or project that isn’t on your priority list, gracefully decline, explaining that while you would love to help, your calendar is just too full. It’s better for us emotionally to do two or three things well than to attempt 10 things half-heartedly.
Plan and organize. There’s nothing wrong with making lists and writing things down on a family calendar. Encourage other family members to use the calendar, too. It will help you avoid those last-minute, I-forgot-to-tell-you-I-need-a-dozen-cookies-for-school-tomorrow crises.
Take time for yourself. The holidays only come once a year, but your health should be a year-round focus. Yes, there’s a lot to do and think about now, but your mind and body still need 30 minutes of exercise a day; seven to eight hours of sleep a night; a diet low in sweets and fat and high in fiber and protein; and five minutes a day to think. Of all the things that are important during the holidays, the most important thing to your family is YOU!
Let it go. It is the rare person indeed whose family life is picture-perfect. We all have a family who just has a way of getting under your skin. When it comes to family, the best recommendation is to just let it go. At most, you’ll likely spend a day or two in their company and often much less. Laugh about it. Talk with your spouse about it. But don’t let their crabby behavior ruin your holiday!
When too much is too much
Stress can show itself both physically and mentally. If you feel persistently sad, anxious or on edge; you start having unexplained physical problems; you’re unable to sleep; feel irritable all the time; or just feel overwhelmed, it may be time to seek help.
Bluegrass is here to help. In 2017, we provided services to 24,000 children, adults and families in our 17 county service area. Our mission as a nonprofit community mental health center is to help you and your loved ones live their best life. Our 24-Hour Helpline answers 92,000 calls annually. We can help you manage stress, whether it’s from too much holiday joy or from the day-to-day challenges of modern life. Services include mental health, substance use and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Call 1.800.928.8000.