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How is the holiday season treating you so far?
The holiday season is an opportunity to spend time with family and friends, to take some time off work, or even escape for a winter getaway. For all the joy and fun, though, so comes the holiday stress.
The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive folks. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, people in the United States are more likely to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season. And on top of that, women tend to stress more and are less likely to manage this stress in healthy ways.
With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays.
However, there’s hope. There are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.
1. Budgeting Is Key
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. It’s unavoidable, but you can minimize the damage by setting a budget and sticking to it.
A lot of the holiday stress that we experience is due to financial pressure. The Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it.
2. Exercise Your Body, Not Just Your Fingers Online
The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, but it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your holiday stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.
You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you’ll feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports, or find time for yoga or Pilates.
3. Take It Easy
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are numerous parties and gatherings during this season, and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.
You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Otherwise, the holiday stress might take over.
If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate — whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or
4. Don’t Forget about Moderation
The holiday season is a time of indulgence — like those cupcakes in
Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
5. Choose Your Battles
We all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way. It’s only natural — not everyone can always get along. Allowing someone else to get under your skin, though, is only going to ruin your holiday and increase your stress levels. Learn to pick your battles, and don’t take the bait.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that if you have a real problem with someone, set it aside and save it for another day. Even the calmest people can lose their cool during the holidays.
6. Treat Yourself
While you’ve been budgeting money for everyone else, there’s no reason why you can’t buy yourself a little something. After all, that way you’ll be sure to be getting something that you want.
You can even schedule yourself a massage or a spa day, which are great ways to maintain healthy holiday stress levels.
7. ‘Tis the Season for Gratitude
The holidays can be full of annoyances. Between your loved ones smothering you and the constant craziness, it can be easy to feel irritated. Instead of getting cranky, lean into the insanity. Remember what you have and embrace the gratitude.
If you feel yourself getting annoyed, try to see things from another light. You may want to have a salad, but your co-worker really wants you to try her homemade cookies. Thank your co-worker for the thought. (You can still stick with your healthy choices, though!)
8. Be Flexible
Of course, you have an image in your head of how you’d like certain holiday events to play out. You also know that things don’t always go according to plan. Realize that certain things will not be perfect, and you won’t feel so much holiday stress if things do go wrong. Go with the flow and have back up plans if necessary.
The Bottom Line on Holiday Stress
Self-care is a conscious choice and this is even more true during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family, and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.
Loving Life–The Reboot!