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Stress Reduction During the Holiday Season

For many people, the holiday season is a time to enjoy favorite traditions and spend time with family and friends. However, the holidays can also bring stress and anxiety that prevent you from looking forward to everything this time of year has to offer. If you find yourself dreading the prospect of spending a full day with your family or losing sleep over how you are going to pay your bills after buying gifts, use these tips to help you enjoy a calmer holiday season.

1. Manage Expectations 

Holiday celebrations typically involve getting together with a house full of family members. Whether you have relatives who get a kick out of starting political debates at the dinner table or nosy family members who pry too much into your personal life, these occasions tend to present ample opportunities for anxiety to rear its head. 

If you find it stressful to spend long periods with your family, you shouldn’t feel guilty about it. After all, they are probably feeling mentally fatigued or burned out too. The kindest thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones is to set practical expectations, and don’t put too much pressure on anybody involved to create a “perfect” celebration. Otherwise, you could reach a point where the cumulative stress spills over and begins causing tension or resentment in your familial relationships. 

2. Set a Budget (and Stick to It)

Retailers seem to start promoting their holiday sales earlier every year. Commercials depicting beautifully decorated homes, elaborate meals or luxury gifts like cars and high-end electronics may inspire you to spend more than you can reasonably afford. According to one recent survey, 43% of respondents said they feel more financially stressed this year than in the past, and 23% expected to go into debt this holiday season. 

Before you spend a dime on gifts, food, entertaining or travel, assess your current financial situation to determine what you can realistically spend. If your budget is tight, consider ways you can spend time instead of money. For example, you can design handmade coupons redeemable for things like helping with household chores. Or, you could consider starting a new tradition of volunteering with a group of close friends and family members, instead of doing a gift exchange. Avoid the challenging emotional effects of debt and head into 2022 with a clean financial slate.

3. Don’t Neglect Your Coping Skills

The temptation to cope with holiday stress by overindulging in food and alcohol is all too prevalent around this time of year, which could leave you feeling worse by piling additional anxieties on your plate. You may also be dealing with seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression that generally affects people in the fall and winter. Don’t let the holidays derail the wellness routine you’ve established. No matter how busy you get, make time to exercise, meditate, eat a balanced diet and get seven to nine hours of restful sleep per night. 

4. Create Healthy Boundaries

If your family is dysfunctional, toxic or abusive, you have the right to limit how much time you spend with them or forgo your visit entirely during the holidays. Your mental health and emotional well-being should always be a priority, especially during one of the most stressful times of year. Be aware of your limitations, and don’t feel obligated to surround yourself with people who belittle you or are overly judgmental or manipulative.

Prioritizing Your Mental Health During the Holidays and Beyond

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