‘Tis the Season: Managing Holiday Stress
By: Tessa Kolaczenko, Talent Development Intern
No matter what you celebrate, I think we can all agree that the holiday season tends to bring out both the best and worst in humankind. In many ways, the holidays inspire joy, encourage spreading good cheer, and energize us to share messages of warmth and love with those whom we hold dear.
On the other hand, the relentless hustle-and-bustle triggers crippling sadness and anxiety for a number of people. Some don’t have the opportunity to rejoice with their loved ones; others don’t have it in their budget to purchase gifts for all their family and friends. Let’s face it: the holiday season can become downright depressing if you aren’t equipped to cope effectively!
Sure, the holidays can be taxing on our minds, bodies, and wallets, but there’s still so much about this wonderful time of year that we can and should enjoy. Taking steps to increase your resilience during such a stressful season is essential to maintaining your mental health. Making sure to take care of your body is also critical when trying to keep up with today’s fast-paced world. Furthermore, seeking out budget-friendly gift alternatives and reflecting on what is truly important during the holiday season can help save your wallet and your mindset.
Wondering how else you might curb the holiday blues this year? Look no further! Check out these four simple steps for surviving and thriving through the end of the year:
- Avoid Social Media
Do not spend a lot of time on sites such as Facebook or Instagram during the holidays. Seeing what others post on social media during the holidays can create jealousy and sadness. Sometimes we see things that we want but cannot have, whether it is materialistic or emotional. It’s too easy to lose your perspective and even develop a fear of missing out. Fight the urge to compare yourself to others—instead, reach out to those close friends and family members via text or phone call.
- Make Real-Life Plans
As you spend less time on social media, prioritize getting out of the house and meeting up with friends or family. Staying home alone and isolating yourself can impair your mindfulness, putting you in a depressed mood. The lack of sunlight and cold weather can also lead to Seasonal Affective Disorder. You should instead surround yourself with friends or family members and make yourself go out. Make concrete plans so you can look forward to events on your calendar. Plans do not always have to include dinner and drinks—go ice skating, see a movie or play, or grab tickets to a fun sporting event.
- Get Moving
Beat feelings of sadness and anxiety through movement. Endorphins are released when you exercise and help to put you in a better mood. The key to making this work is avoiding the excuses you use not to go to the gym. Many gyms are open 24 hours which makes it flexible for almost all schedules. Try planning a workout time with a friend. By committing to go with that person, you are less likely to bail on your workout session. If you can’t make plans with a gym buddy, then think about attending group class activities such as, a spin class, barre class, or yoga.
- Change Your Perspective
The holidays are about joy and giving. Instead of thinking about giving gifts, find ways that you can volunteer. Many organizations find that time is the most precious gift because it’s the time of year that they need the most help. It is also beneficial to recognize that it is okay to feel overwhelmed and sad. Just keep reminding yourself that the holidays are only a season and will soon pass. There is also no harm in reaching out to a health care provider if your feelings become too much or continue past the holiday season. Your mental health is very important during this time.
Resilience is the ability to overcome obstacles. You face many challenges during the holiday season, but choose to not let them consume you. Be realistic about your situation by acknowledging everything you might feel this time of year—both the good and the bad—joy and happiness as well as stress and sadness.
Surround yourself with those who support you and do not allow yourself to isolate. Maybe a part of your support system includes someone who will motivate you to get up and get active; or perhaps you’ll decide to spend a bit of your free time volunteering for a charitable cause that is close to your heart. Discover what works best for you and run with it! Bottom-line: Prioritize your health—body and mind—this holiday season, and you can’t go wrong!