The holiday season can be a stressful and overwhelming time of year. For many people, the holidays can feel like an unwanted commitment filled with stress instead of joy and happiness.
Maybe it’s worrying about finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list, how you’re going to afford presents, dealing with family members you don’t get along with, or managing the changes in routine. These demands may quickly lead to a decline in mental health.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holidays, here are some tips to help your mental health and holiday stress.
Trying to rush everything in at the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Instead, have a plan in place for when you are going to accomplish tasks such as shopping, visiting friends, and baking. Not only will planning give you peace of mind, but it is also a good exercise to keep your mind organized and calm.
By planning and taking care of one task at a time, you will feel less holiday stress and eliminate the risk of an overwhelming schedule.
The holidays don’t have to be just exactly perfect. Don’t stress yourself out by trying to create the perfect holiday season. Instead, be realistic and open-minded. Traditions may change, families can grow or move away, and there might not be enough time to set up all the decorations, make it to every party, or prepare all the food.
Keep it simple and be reasonable. The holidays are going to be perfect just as they are, and more importantly, filled with joy.
Exercise is a great way to deal with holiday stress, anxiety, and depression. You don’t have to join a gym or set aside 1-2 hours every day for a workout. Taking a walk, stretching, or doing a quick 20-minute home workout routine can help improve your mood and energy.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), exercise and physical activity produce endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and reduce stress levels. This is especially important for mental health during the holidays, where stress is often high.
Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
Saying no to a friend or family member is hard but is sometimes needed for the sake of your mental wellbeing. It may be the holidays, and you want to please everyone, but you also need to think about yourself and your holiday stress levels. If you feel like there is way too much on your plate and you need to make room in your schedule, let your friends or family members know.
Be honest and tell your loved ones you are stressed due to the busy holiday season. This can even be an opportunity to take a moment to connect with them. They will probably understand your experience and may even offer to help.
Set Aside Differences
The holidays are a time to come together and share in the joy, not a time to argue. Set aside any differences in lifestyle, opinions, or behaviors and accept everyone for who they are. Enjoy each other’s company and talk about topics that bring happiness.
And remember, if someone in your family starts acting out, try to be understanding and compassionate. They may also be dealing with stress and mental health issues that come with the holidays, and they will appreciate your support when experiencing a stressful moment.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The items and tasks on your agenda can be overwhelming and quickly add up. Don’t let small things like forgetting to send a holiday card stress you out. The bigger picture of the holidays is more important, like spending time with friends and family.
Also, don’t feel obligated to complete everything on your list. If you forget something small or don’t have time, don’t sweat it. Life will go on. What is important is that you take care of your mental health during the holidays and enjoy the season.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It’s okay to express and acknowledge your feelings. Trying to force yourself to be happy during the holidays will only make your mental health and stress levels worse.
Don’t be ashamed of your feelings it’s completely normal to feel sad or cry. It is also good for your mental health, and you will feel much better after expressing yourself.
Seek Professional Help If Needed
Don’t let the holidays be something you come to dread every year. Instead, apply these tips to your life to help with mental health and reduce stress. Identify holiday triggers when they happen so you can better address them then before they lead to a bigger issue.
If you find yourself struggling during the holiday season with depression or anxiety, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. At Catholic Charities, we offer behavior health services to children and adults in need. We are here to help you find peace and joy not only during the holidays but throughout your entire life.