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Stats & Facts! Top 10 Ways to Prevent Holiday Stress

by Sharon Gayle December 22, 2010

Minimizing Holiday Stress

Time to put some things on the back-burner!

The Holidays should be the embodiment of all things good, i.e. comfort, relaxation, enjoyment, happiness, fun, laughter, and unforgettable times spent with the family and friends. Unfortunately, recent statistics, indicate that for many Americans, the Holidays is the most stressful time of the year.  Many are left, exhausted, depressed, unhappy, and confused as to where the time went!  For some individuals, it is actually a period of time that they would prefer to forget.

However, there is one good factor about Holiday stress, is that it is predictable. Unlike many other types of negative stress we experience in our lives, we know when holiday stress will begin and end, therefore we can make plans to minimize the amount of stress we experience and the effect it has on us.

Plan ahead, and do what you can do comfortably!

Before you get overwhelmed by too many activities, it is important to remind yourself of the meaning of Christmas and the reasons for this Holiday tradition and celebrations. Then decide which aspects of this tradition brings the most positive impact and joy.  Once you've decided, eliminate extraneous efforts!  For example, if you usually become overwhelmed by a whirlwind of baking, cooking, shopping, sending cards, visiting relatives and other activities that leave you begging for relief by January; you may want to re-assess your priorities, pick a few activities that mean the most and really enjoy them!  Put the rest on the back-burner for Next year.

Enjoy yourself...

Following are 10-Tips you might consider to help reduce holiday stress before it begins, so that it remains the joyful experience it should be, rather than traumatizing and overwhelming! ~SG.

Stress-Free giving, is should make you happy.

Tips to prevent holiday stress and depression

When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup. Try to prevent stress and depression in the first place, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past.

  1. Acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can't be with loved ones, realize that it's normal to feel sadness and grief. It's OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holiday season.
  2. Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events. They can offer support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships.
  3. 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 videotapes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. Try these alternatives: Donate to a charity in someones name, give homemade gifts or start a family gift exchange.
  6. Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That will help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
  7. 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.
  8. Don't abandon healthy habits. Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
  9. 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. Take a walk at night and stargaze. Listen to soothing music. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
  10. 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.   

Reference: “Stress, Depression and the Holidays" - Mayo Clinic