For many, Christmas is the most wonderful time of year. They thrive on the hustle and bustle, decorating the halls, baking the cookies and singing along with carols on the radio. They look forward to creating family memories and seeing the lights.
For others, the holidays and the stress attached is overwhelming. They’d love to feel the warmth of Christmas cheer but they can’t. The holidays are no longer fun for them. But for many people, the holidays and the stress that ensues is overwhelming and they lack Christmas cheer because of it. According to the American Psychology Association, we are more stressed than ever and the holiday season is no exception. 69% of people feel stressed about the lack of time and lack of money during the holiday season. 50% are stressed about the gift giving process. The most stressed generation are the Gen Xers at 62%, followed by the Boomers and Millennials at 61%. Many health experts believe the societal expectations that we’re supposed to be filled with peace, joy, and love during this season increases our stress because we feel guilty for not living up to those expectations.
Holiday stress manifests itself in:
- Digestive issues
And more. Stress can ultimately lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. Holiday stress occurs for many reasons. For some it may be a reminder of a loved one lost during the year; for others the stress of entertaining may be too much; still others may stress over family issues that come to a head when everyone gathers together. Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can employ to reduce your stress and enjoy your holiday to the fullest.
Kiss Holiday Stress Goodbye in Five Easy Steps
- Create boundaries. Make it clear well in advance what you are and are not willing to do during the holidays. Stick with this plan to avoid overwhelm. It is okay to say no when it’s appropriate. Many people end up over committing and stretching themselves too thin, trying to fit every activity in. It’s important to focus on the most important activities and to schedule downtime during the holidays to rejuvenate and rest.
- Be aware of your emotions. When you pay attention to how you’re feeling and your thoughts, you can pinpoint what is stressing you out and manage it effectively. Make time each day for meditation, yoga or a BrainTap session. Even a simple, quiet walk can do wonders to reset your brain and prepare you for the day’s activities.
- Make sleep a priority. This can be challenging when you’re rushing from activity to activity, cooking, cleaning, surprising the kids, and more. Remember, your brain and body heal during the sleep cycle. If your sleep is limited or poor quality, you miss out on this restorative process and become less focused, less resilient, and less able to manage holiday stress and anxiety.
- Let go of that picture of perfection. People are not perfect. The holidays are not going to be perfect either–no matter what the Hallmark Channel tries to tell us. As families grow and change, traditions may need to change and adapt. Accept the people in your life as they are, even if they don’t live up to your expectations. Set aside arguments for more appropriate times and be understanding if things don’t work out the way you pictured them. That will go a long way to reducing stress during the holiday season.
- Practice healthy habits. During the holidays temptations abound. Allow yourself to indulge but don’t go overboard. This tends to lead to stress and guilt. Eat a healthy snack when you can, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, limit alcohol and sugar consumption if you can and try to move your body every day. Exercise especially is a great stress buster and will help combat the effects of holiday treats.
Stress is inevitable during the holiday season, even if it’s good stress. According to Jeffrey Borenstein, MD, President and CEO of Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, “We can learn to recognize holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, and combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive actions, you can find ways to enjoy the holidays.” With some simple planning and a few BrainTap breaks during the holidays, you can minimize stress and anxiety, maintain your relaxation and health, and truly enjoy the holidays this season. From the BrainTap family to your family, we wish you the happiest and healthiest holiday season yet!