For many people, the holidays can be stressful even in normal circumstances. The uncertainties of the 2020 holiday season and how to cope with social and travel restrictions and other changes, combined with our own expectations, can boost stress levels. These strategies can help you manage common stressors to feel less overwhelmed in the weeks ahead.
Identify your specific holiday stressors. These can range from wanting to recreate past celebrations to overindulging in food, alcohol and partying, to worrying about money for gifts.
Change your mindset. How you perceive a situation can increase or decrease your stress level. By simply changing your thoughts and expectations, you can lower your stress. Here are some suggested ways to readjust your mindset about common holiday stressors:
“I have the right to set a budget for gifts this year that is affordable for me. My love for my family and friends cannot be equated with what I buy them.”
“I don’t have to have an extra helping of food, dessert or an alcoholic beverage just because it’s expected.”
“It’s okay to feel sad about not being able to celebrate with my parents this year—I can enjoy the holidays as they would want me to, share memories of them, and carry on our traditions in their absence.”
Keep your expectations manageable and pace yourself. List and prioritize the most important activities. Be realistic about what you can do, give up notions of perfection, and share responsibilities with others. Don’t put the entire focus on just one day (i.e., Christmas day). Remember, it is a season of holiday sentiment and activities that can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
Save time for yourself to recharge your batteries! Eat regular, nutritious meals, get a good night’s sleep and exercise regularly—preferably outside and in sunlight for its mood-lifting effects. Remember to keep in close contact with supportive and caring people!
Feeling overwhelmed? Talk to your healthcare practitioner or a licensed counselor for guidance and if needed, referrals to the right professional.