Stress management during the holidays can be challenging. Look around in any store and you’ll find early reminders of what’s ahead of us- spending quality time with people we love, great food, awesome parties, and the list goes on. Of course, these are what we all hope our holiday season will be made of, but that’s not always the case. Even in the best of situations, people struggle with excessive commitments, social anxiety, fallouts with loved ones, unrealistic expectations, and financial pressures. If any of those sound familiar, you may be wondering how to get on top of your mental health this year. In this 4-part series, you will find a way to manage the top holiday mental health concerns and start your 2018 fresh instead of frazzled.
Part 1: Start Now, Not Later
Early November can feel too soon to consider digging into holiday preparation, but if you want to enjoy some bliss this December start the ball rolling now. Planning helps you take back control, and the time to plan your upcoming season is here! It is much easier to attack the extra demands on your time early in the game. Why? You are more objective when you are not in a time crunch.
Tip #1: Give Yourself Time
One of the most effective ways to kick the holiday dumps is to use planning to your advantage. An important rule to use during this time of the year is to assume everything will take 2 times as long as you think. When you plan upcoming errands, it can be hard to remember how time-consuming many of the demands are. This can lead to overbooking and excessive commitments, which leads to unnecessary anxiety.
Tip #2: Don’t Forget Yourself
This may be the most important tip on the list. It is easy to get so caught up in the swirl of holiday activities you forget to spend time with yourself. Reserving chunks of personal time will help you keep what is important in perspective, and help you with stress management during the holidays. When we neglect to care for ourselves, we are vulnerable to poor moods. Need ideas? Check out some clever ways to enjoy the moment in front of you.
Tip #3: Prioritize
This holiday season ask yourself honestly: what and who is truly important? What can go to the side if I begin to feel overwhelmed or rushed? Although it can be hard, learn to say no to things you do not actually want or need to do. If you are having trouble figuring out how to prioritize, look to your values. Values, not external expectations, will guide you during this time. Don’t know what your core values are? Here is a great exercise to use to figure out what is truly important to you, so that you can put your priorities in order.
Tip #4: Practice Mindful Gifting
We all know this state of awareness is the best way to go about our day. What you may not have known is you can also practice mindful gifting. When we have time to be leisurely about purchasing gifts, we tend to think more deeply about the person we are gifting for. If you take this time now, the gifts you give will mean much more to the recipient and yourself. Set aside some chunks of time as soon as possible for reflection. During this time, make a list of each receiver and write down what they truly like and enjoy. If you do not yet know, keep an eye out for clues.
Holiday Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Holiday stress and depression can extend into your new year if not dealt with sooner than later. The aforementioned tips and tricks help answer the question of how to establish holiday stress management tools through planning. However, there may be times when you need more help to deal with your anxiety. Finding the best cognitive behavioral therapist for you can be another important tool in your box when dealing with the holiday blues.
Did you enjoy this article? If so, you may want to read Combat the Holiday Blues by Helping Others for additional tips and ideas.