The holiday season is often portrayed as a time to be festive, enjoy time with friends and family, and generally wind down from the everyday grind. However, for many people, the holidays can bring on unwanted stress. The nature of the holiday season leads to changes in typical routines that can be difficult to adapt to.
If the holidays bring about a sense of dread, angst, worry, or frustration instead of joy, these tips for how to cope with the holiday season may bring you some comfort!
Acknowledge Your Feelings
First off, don’t fight how you’re feeling. If you aren’t excited about the holidays or you’re feeling particularly stressed, that’s OKAY. Ignoring or repressing your feelings can make you feel even worse in the long run. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you have to be cheery 24/7.
Along with acknowledging your feelings, be realistic with yourself. If you know that going to three different holiday parties in one day is going to cause you to feel worse, consider just going to one instead. Offer to make alternate plans at a later date with those that you won’t be seeing, if it’s important to you. It’s also always okay to just say no.
Set a Budget and Stick to It
Money is a big stressor around the holidays. We live in a world that constantly tells us that we need the latest smartphone or gaming console, sometimes making the holidays even feel like a competition.
This year, try setting yourself a budget and buying meaningful gifts within that budget – or, if it’s a tough year for you and your family, let people know that. Offer service gifts or just to spend time with people instead.
Practice Good Self Care
Yes, the holidays are about giving, but you can’t pour from an empty cup. Don’t forget to also give yourself some time, grace, and whatever else you need to feel well and whole. It’s okay to take a little space from your loved ones to refuel or recharge. If you’re not sure where to start, try any of these tips:
- Practice deep breathing or meditation exercises
- Set aside an hour at night to unwind with a favorite book
- Give yourself a cut off time to leave a gathering
- Journal at the end of the day to get out any thoughts or feelings
Set Some Boundaries
There’s a lot going on right now, politically and within our health system. Tempers can run hot, especially when there are differences of opinion. Don’t be afraid to say that you’ve had enough of a conversation or that you’d prefer not to discuss something if you know that it’s going to cause more issues.
It’s also important to remember that some people this holiday season will choose to wear a mask and/or vaccinated while others may not. Ask about the event you’re attending so you know whether or not you’re comfortable with the host’s policy around COVID-19. Knowing in advance will avoid surprises and allow you to make the best decisions for your personal level of comfort.
Reach out to a Professional
The holiday season may be overwhelming. If the stress of the upcoming holidays becomes too much or if you feel like seasonal depression may be strongly affecting your life, it may be time to reach out to a professional.