November 11th, 2017 •
Comments Off on Holiday Stress: How to Reduce Stress and Enjoy the Season
The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your loved ones and take a well-earned break from work. But while it should be a fun and joyous time of year, the holiday season can also be extremely stressful. Whether it’s the pressure to create the “perfect” Christmas, the stress of dealing with the overwhelming crowds, or simply the prospect of spending time with the in-laws. It’s easy to see why the holiday season isn’t always the most wonderful time of the year!
Is just thinking about the holidays enough to raise your blood pressure? Read on for our top tips for dealing with holiday stress…
Who Suffers From Holiday Stress?
Holiday stress is more common than you might think – and the closer it gets to the big day, the worse it often becomes. In a recent poll by USA Today, more than half of respondents said that the holiday season makes them feel stressed or depressed, with many people wanting to skip the holidays altogether!
While anyone can become stressed during the holiday season, it are women who are more likely to feel the strain over the holiday. This is likely because women often take on the majority of holiday-related tasks like shopping, cooking and organizing family get-togethers.
In addition, holiday anxiety is most likely to be felt by families with middle to low incomes. As well as the pressure of getting everything done in time for the holiday, many families struggle to cover the cost of Christmas and end up in financial difficulties as a result of spending too much. Anxiety is only further fuelled by media pressure and society’s unrealistic expectations of the “perfect” Christmas.
The Consequences of Stress
While a moderate amount of stress can actually be good for you, too much of it can have a serious impact on your health and wellbeing.
Common physical symptoms of stress include tiredness, headaches, aches and pains, insomnia, an upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea and even chest pains. You might also notice changes in your behavior and find day-to-day tasks more challenging than usual, with frustration and panic occurring all too frequently.
Rather worryingly, many people fail to realize that their symptoms are actually being caused by holiday stress. Long-term stress can lead to many physical and mental health issues like cardiovascular diseases, heart attacks, depression and Adrenal Fatigue, so it is extremely important to deal with it quickly and take action to overcome the stress you are feeling.
The Causes of Holiday Stress
Just why does the holiday season stress us out so much? While the root cause of stress will be different for each individual, there are several common causes of holiday stress that most of us can relate to.
- A lack of time
The holiday season is an extremely busy time of year. From doing the shopping and wrapping the presents, to organizing family gatherings, cooking and keeping the kids entertained, there is a seemingly never-ending list of things to do – and a very limited amount of time to do them all in!
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- Financial pressure
Christmas can quickly become very expensive, with huge pressure being placed upon families to create the “perfect” holiday for their families. Whether it’s buying the latest ‘must have’ presents or spending money on all those extravagant holiday extras, the cost of the season soon adds up – and it can quickly become a huge headache.
- Family visits
The holiday season is a time for relaxing with your family, but this can bring stresses and strains in its own right. Family visits aren’t always a pleasant experience, with time spent in each other’s company sometimes leading to arguments and awkward situations. In addition, loneliness is a big problem at this time of year and is something that can cause great amounts of stress.
- Overeating and weight gain
Most people eat and drink much more than usual during the holiday season, with homes up and down the country been filled full of tempting treats like mince pies and cookies. For those on a diet or concerned about their weight, the holidays can make it difficult to stay on track and eat healthily. The resulting weight gain can cause huge amounts of stress and anxiety.
- Work-related stress
The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy a well-deserved rest from the daily grind, but work itself can actually cause many problems during the holiday season. Whether it’s having an overwhelming workload or not being able to book enough time off, Christmas can cause a great deal of anxiety in the workplace – and that’s not to mention the stress of feeling like you haven’t earned enough money to cover the cost of the holidays.
Top Tips for Managing Holiday Stress
While it’s impossible to completely banish holiday stress, there are certain things you can do to make your life easier and ease the pressure when holiday stress starts to kick in. Here are some top tips to help you manage stress during the holidays.
- Take time off work
Although it can be tempting to work all the hours in the world to cover the cost of the holidays, it’s also important to take enough time off – and especially so when the pressure is getting to you.
In addition, it’s worth remembering that you don’t have to shower loved ones with extravagant gifts in order to show them that you care. Working less over the holidays may mean that you can’t afford as many luxuries, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t make it a holiday to remember.
- Make a budget – and don’t overspend
As we have just mentioned, the holidays aren’t about buying extravagant gifts or filling your home with the latest expensive gadgets. Rather, they are about having fun with your family and spending quality time with your nearest and dearest – and that definitely doesn’t have to cost the earth!
In truth, most people don’t really care how much you spend on them, and they certainly won’t remember it in the years to come. Rather, it is the happy memories that will live on forever.
With this in mind, there is really no need to get into debt over the holiday season. Instead, simply decide on how much you want to spend overall and then allocate a sensible budget for each person. You can still enjoy the season even with a limited budget.
- Look after yourself
When stress kicks on, many people resort to comfort eating or binge watching box sets on Netflix. While we all like to do these things from time to time (especially over the holidays), it’s definitely worth remembering that overeating, drinking too much, or staring at the TV screen for hours on end are not healthy ways to cope with stress.
Instead, you should look after yourself in a positive way. Go for a walk, hit the gym, or do some yoga. Listen to some soothing music, or treat yourself to a massage each time you’ve ticked off some big items from your to-do list. Even just going outside and getting some fresh air can work wonders.
- Ask for help – and learn to say “no”
One of the main causes of holiday stress is having too many things on your plate. From buying presents and sending out cards, to cooking, organizing family gatherings and attending twenty-one different Christmas parties, it’s fair to say that the holiday season likes to keep us busy!
Rather than trying to do everything yourself, make sure you learn to ask for help when things are starting to stress you out.
In addition, don’t be afraid to say “no” to events you cannot (or don’t want) to attend. By doing less, you’ll actually enjoy the holidays more – and you’ll feel much calmer.
- Try to think positively
While you might not enjoy every aspect of the holiday season, there are almost certainly things about it that you do enjoy – and these are the things you should focus on!
Instead of dwelling on all the negatives of the holidays, you should instead reflect on the memories you’ll make and try to enjoy every moment of your break way from the office. If you can do that, you’ll go back to work in January feeling refreshed and positive about the year ahead.
The holidays can cause a lot of stress, but it is possible to significantly improve the way you feel by using the practical tips listed above.
Remember: the holiday season should be about fun and enjoyment. Learn to look after yourself, and recognize when you’re starting to feel stressed so that you can do something about it.
By taking this advice on board, you’ll be able to get through the holiday season with a smile on your face and create happy memories that will last a lifetime. Wishing you happy holidays!