While many of us find the holidays a time of joy and celebration, others experience a completely different set of emotions. It can be a time of year full of stress and depression. And it’s not surprising with the added stress of cooking, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining. However, by setting realistic expectations and seeking support you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. Here are five tips to help you this holiday season.
Don’t expect the “ideal” holiday. Remember, nobody has a perfect holiday or perfect family, that only happens in movies. Be realistic and take time to acknowledge your feelings. If someone close to you has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, it’s normal to feel sadness and grief.
Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. To quote the Grinch “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”
Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, connecting with friends and other activities. Consider whether you can shop online for any of your items. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. Don’t forget to ask for help with meal prep and clean up.
Just say no. It’s OK to say no when you’re asked to do more than you can. It’s fine to say no to some invitations and fine to say no to those asking for favors. Remember, this is your holiday, too. It’s important that you remember to be there for yourself just like you try to be for everyone else.
Keep your regular routine. A change in routine can lead to additional stress. Try to exercise at your usual time, go to meetings that you normally go to, and stick to as normal a diet as you possibly can. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.
The holidays only come once a year and only last for a few weeks. It’s important to give others and yourself a little grace during what can be a stressful time. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. And if despite your best efforts you still feel depressed, stressed, or anxious, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. JMHS has mental health therapists available to see you in-person or via telehealth. To schedule an appointment call 320-769-4323.