5 Tips to Reduce Holiday Stress
The holidays can be a wonderful time to give gratitude, foster togetherness, practice tradition, and create memories. However, as the holiday season ramps up, for many, so do feelings of stress, worry, and sadness. This can be especially difficult when the holidays are “supposed” to be a time of happiness, joy, and stress-free time with family. While this can certainly be the case, expectations from ourselves and others as well as existing cultural pressures can understandably make it difficult to cope effectively during this busy and emotional time. Here are 5 tips that can help you make the holidays less stressful:
During times of stress, self-care practices and routines can easily be forgotten or become unbalanced. It can be important to be aware of changes in sleep, diet, and physical activity. Furthermore, setting aside time to recharge and relax may be a helpful and healthy investment. Taking care of ourselves often maximizes our capacity to manage stress and care for others. Dr. Dan Siegel outlines areas of self-care that promote a healthy mind.
- Healthy Boundaries
Many see the holidays as an occasion to spend time with family, near and far. However, our interactions with our family are often more nuanced, and for some, family time can be a source of stress due to strained relationships, interacting with in-laws, managing schedules as a blended family, or coping with a loss in the family. Practicing healthy boundaries can be especially appropriate during this time of the year. This can mean saying “no” to plans that contribute to distress, for example. Communicating directly with your partner, family, and loved ones can help in the process of navigating and setting healthy boundaries.
- Be Gentle with Yourself
The holiday season can understandably bring up many different types of emotions. It can be helpful to be aware of and acknowledge those feelings in a non-judgmental way. For some, past holiday traditions as well as family and cultural pressures can lead to high expectations for ourselves. Taking time to reflect on what is important and valuable to you and your family can be a guiding process. Change can be healthy; it is okay to skip a stressful tradition and create new ones.
- Stress Management Skills
Along with setting healthy boundaries and managing expectations, some quick and easy stress management skills can go a long way. Examples of these skills include prioritizing tasks, reviewing tasks and activities that can be skipped or postponed to a different time, creating a to-do list, and developing a budget. Engaging in these skills individually or collaborating with a partner to divide and conquer has the potential to decrease stress levels.
- Utilizing Resources and Support
It is vital to keep the supportive people in our lives close. Utilizing resources and spending quality time with those who are loving and supportive can be just the de-stressor you need. Asking for help, whether it be sharing the holiday workload with your partner or having a supportive, listening ear to talk to can foster connection and improve mood.
Abby Wulfing, MA, LAMFT
Abby has a Master’s degree from the University of St. Thomas in Counseling Psychology with a certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her professional experience includes in-office counseling with adults, adolescents, children, and families from various ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds as well as in-school counseling and group psychotherapy. Abby see’s clients at the Lorenz Clinic of Family Psychology in Prior Lake.