‘Tis the season to be jolly! Right? Sometimes that’s easier said than done and for many, even more difficult with the cloud of Covid-19 bearing down on us through 2020. We want the holidays to be a time of joy, laughter, and good times with those we love but it’s often laden with anxiety and depression. According to the Discovery Mood and Anxiety Program, 40% of adults suffer from social anxiety during the holiday season. If you are one of them, try these 7 tips to reduce holiday stress this year.
7 Ways to Reduce Stress During the Holidays
- Make a plan. Schedule time for shopping, sending out cards, cooking, and other major tasks. Start early if you can. This will help to ensure it doesn’t all build up and feel like a mountain to climb.
- Set a budget and stick to it. Money is one of the most significant sources of holiday stress. Decide how much you’re going to spend before you start shopping, or even planning. I did this a few years back and substantially reduced my gift budget and I stick to it annually. This was a game changer.
- Change your expectations. Stop trying to get your aunt to show up on time, your sister stops complaining, or your husband to shop before Christmas Eve. It’s not going to happen. Accept that the things that irritate you are not likely to go away. You can’t change how other people act. You can only control how you respond. Expecting it to be different every holiday will continue to cause you stress. Meet people where they are and let the rest go.
- Learn to say NO! Try it now….. did you try it? Saying no is a skill that can save you enormous anxiety and stress. It’s something they should teach in grade school!! If you receive an invitation or are asked to help with holiday tasks, take a look at your schedule. If it doesn’t fit, just say no.
- Enjoy regular mental health breaks. Everything moves faster around the holidays. There’s more to do and less time to do it in. It seems that everywhere you turn, someone is piling onto your list. You need to carve out time to recharge. Setting aside even half an hour a couple of times a week could be just the break you need!
- Get moving. Research shows that exercise not only reduces stress and anxiety, it also increases energy, something we could all use a little more of during the holidays.
- Watch your sugar intake. There are sweets at every turn from Halloween through New Year’s Day. It’s wonderful to indulge a bit, but keep it in check. This includes alcohol which is loaded with sugar. Besides piling on pounds, sugar can lead to exhaustion, skin problems, depression, and that lovely annual yeast infection. Ever wonder why that happens around the holidays every year? You got it, too much sugar.
An extra tip for surviving the holidays in 2020
2020 has been a year like no other that most of us remember. Do I even need to say that anymore??? Covid 19, lockdowns, the pandemic, quarantine and social distance have eliminated the ability to get together freely with our families and friends and celebrate.
It stinks but make the best of it. Instead of focusing on what you can’t do this holiday season, lean in to what you can. Make yourself a list, mental or written, of the things you CAN do to celebrate this season and then enjoy those activities. Don’t let “I only wish I could…” steal your holiday joy.
Be safe and enjoy this holiday season!