It’s the Holidays!
How Can You Destress?
The month is December is supposed to be joyous, as many of the major religions celebrate holidays, but as we all know, sometimes the merriment gets lost in everything you have to do — shopping, baking, cleaning, entertaining, and attending parties and family events. How can you destress during this festive time? Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic:
- Acknowledge your feelings.If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones, realize it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s okay to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
- Reach out.If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events that can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
- Be realistic.The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails or videos.
- Set aside differences.Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
- Stick to a budget.Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Consider donating to a charity in someone’s name, giving homemade gifts or starting a family gift exchange as a way to rein in your spending.
- Plan ahead.Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list to help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
- Learn to say no.Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits.Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Consider having a healthy snack before holiday parties so you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese, or drinks; getting plenty of sleep; and incorporating regular physical activity into each day.
- Take a breather.Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Options include taking a walk at night and stargazing, listening to soothing music, getting a massage, or reading a book.
- Seek professional help if you need it.Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Above all else, don’t let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during this time. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.