By this point, you're probably sick of cold turkey, might have sore feet from all your black Friday shopping and if you're like some people, you've had your fill of family. The holidays are known to bring families together and at times bring out the worst in those we love.
It's no secret that the holiday season can be anything but joyous, in fact, according to the American Psychological Association 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season. With that 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.
All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.
Set A Budget
Shopping can be fun, but spending money isn’t always easy, and some Americans spend almost a $1,000 every holiday season on gifts alone. As unavoidable as it feels, you can manage this stress by setting a budget as a family and sticking to it.
Include your travel, extra food and even accounting for those unexpected sick days or snow days that might cause a dip in your usual paydays as well. Knowing you can afford what you're doing can go a long way to making even your less pleasant occurrences not as stressful.
I can't say that going for a walk in the cold is my first choice, but a mild routine of exercise even during can offer you all kinds of benefits. Even a few minutes of activity can:
- Elevate your mood
- Decrease your holiday weight gain
- Naturally reduce your stress
Schedule Down Time
The American Psychological Association reminds us that we need to take time for ourselves. There are parties and gatherings 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.
If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate- whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in family to take on certain tasks.
There's generally no shortage of high calorie, processed treats readily available during the holiday season and overindulging can expand your waistline or even leaving you feeling under the weather. Enjoy yourself, in moderation, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Another great habit is keeping a bottle of water handy as the dryness of the season combined with liquids that may naturally dehydrate you can also make you feel sick. As a last note, don't forget to make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.
Choose Your Battles
While we all have someone in our circle that rubs us the wrong way, family gatherings or holiday parties are NOT the place to hash out the details of long standing conflicts. It’s only natural- not everyone can always get along, but I promise you that your uncle is not going to change his political affiliation because you read him the riot act at the dessert table.
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. Experts at the Mayo Clinic have suggested 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.
Self-care is 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.