The holiday season can bring unwelcome guests: stress and anxiety.
Time is short, to-do lists are long, family obligations are many, challenging interpersonal dynamics are rearing their heads, and your body is all out of whack from eating extra treats and being stuck in traffic on long car rides.
You told yourself it was going to be different this year, but already you can feel yourself slipping into the holiday chaos zone once again.
Take a deep breath.
Here are some tips to help you cope with holiday stress:
- Acknowledge your feelings. The holidays are a time when we think of loved ones who are not with us. Perhaps your children live far away and can't make it home. It may have been a rough year in your home and you are not able to do as much as you would like for your children. Or, perhaps someone close to you has died. Estrangements in families can also bring on holiday sadness and grief. The media puts so much pressure and expectations on us for what a holiday season should encompass and you may not feel up for it. It's ok to cry or take time to express your feelings. You can't force yourself to be happy just because it's the holidays.
- Reach out. If you feel isolated or long for companionship, see what your local community or church is offering. Perhaps there are some social events at work that you can join in or help plan. Volunteering your time at this time of year is a wonderful way to lift your spirits and meet new people. Some of the places you might look to volunteer for the holidays are The Ronald McDonald House, your local hospital, The United Way, and your local Food Bank.
- Manage your expectations. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like "you've always done". As families grow and change, the traditions and rituals should change too. Be open to creating new traditions and finding new ways to celebrate. And don't forget, just because you might not be able to get home for the holidays, programs like Skype, Blue Jeans, and Google Hangout can bring you a great virtual time together - and they're all free.
- Learn to say "no". Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and add to the overwhelm you're already experiencing. Whether you learn to say “No” more often, or just learn to say “Yes” on your terms, you release yourself from the burden of pleasing others and give yourself more time and freedom to do what matters to you.
- Get support if you need it. Engaging with a therapist or coach can support you in managing difficult and persistent emotions. The closing of the year often causes us to reflect on the highs and lows of the year. This reflection may cause you to want to set some goals for the coming year or creating a life that would bring you more peace and happiness.
- Practice healthy habits now. So often, we see people making a New Year's resolution to get fit and healthy and give into unhealthy indulgences over the holidays. Don't let the holidays be a free-for-all. Get plenty of sleep, get some exercise, and be choiceful about your snacking.
- Take a breather. Take some time for yourself, without distractions. Just 15 minutes a day can be enough to recenter and re-energize yourself. Reducing stress clears your mind, slows your breathing, and restores a sense of wellbeing.
To further support you relieving stress and anxiety, I have created an online course called “10 Days to Relieve Stress and Anxiety”. It's a wonderful mix of my favorite tools and techniques to empower you to be resilient and to help you recenter, set boundaries, and revitalize your Feminine Self.