How to Manage Stress During the Holidays

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It’s almost that time of year – the holiday season! From Thanksgiving to Christmas, to other holiday parties, it’s supposed to be a time of giving and cheer. However, this isn’t always the case as the holiday season can bring stress and chaos into your life as you try to keep up with the season’s demands. While it’s a great opportunity to spend time with family and take a few days off of work, there are many different things that can trigger stress in people around the holidays. Let’s take a look at what these triggers are so you can try to avoid them this holiday season.

Holiday Stress Triggers

1. Overdoing it

There are a lot of extra tasks associated with the holiday season such as sending out cards, preparing your house for out of town family, baking sweets, shopping, and more. As you can see, all of this can add up pretty quickly and it can be a lot to handle at once. Even though you may not be able to escape all of these added responsibilities, it’s important to realize that you have the option to say “No”. You can easily add stress to your body by overloading your schedule and not getting enough sleep each night.

2. Spending too much time with family

The holidays are a time where people get together with family from all over. While this can be a cheerful time to see family members you haven’t seen in a long time, it can also become overwhelming. Maybe you’re being asked questions about your relationship or career and it triggers stress in your body. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize alone time and limit bonding time with family as necessary in order for you to keep your sanity and decrease your chances of becoming overwhelmed.

3. Eating, drinking, and spending too much

During this time of year, it’s common for everyone to be in a giving mood, meaning that people will eat, drink, and spend more than they probably would at any other time. There is always a lingering temptation to overindulge in bad habits during the holidays, whether that be excessive caffeine or too much pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how much you are eating, drinking, and spending to minimize stress.

Tips for Minimizing Holiday Stress

1. Try to choose healthier food options and stay hydrated

During the holidays, it’s typical for more unhealthy food options to be around such as fried foods, sweets, and alcohol. These foods are empty calories and will not give you the sustainable energy you need to get through the holiday season. Curb your sugar cravings by only eating treats in moderation of a few bites rather than overindulging in the whole pie, for example. It’s also extremely important to stay hydrated, especially by drinking a glass of water in between any alcoholic beverages you may have. Staying hydrated will make you feel better and less bloated if you do overindulge in unhealthy foods. These healthy eating tips will help you stick to your plan during the holiday season!

2. Get moving

The best way to de-stress is to get up and move around with regular exercise. Research shows that exercise of some kind will help boost your fitness and energy levels and decrease your stress levels by elevating your mood. Therefore, it’s very beneficial to add in some kind of exercise during the busy holiday season. Even if it’s small things such as parking further away from the store you’re shopping at or taking a morning walk; these can significantly help you feel better during this time of the year.

3. Take breaks

This tip seems like an obvious one that we should all remember, but during the craziness of the holidays we can forget to sit down and actually take a break for ourselves. Setting aside time for yourself is important in order to cope with the stress of the holiday season. This gives you time to take a minute to breathe and to also clear your mind. Even if it’s taking 10-15 minutes for yourself, it is better than nothing.

4. Set a budget

Another holiday stressor is spending too much money with gift giving and going out with family and friends. It can be easy to drop hundreds of dollars on these activities that you may not have the money for. That’s why it’s important to set a budget for the holidays before they begin. While it can be tempting to swipe your credit card, it can complicate your financial pressures as it may be a way to easily spend money you don’t necessarily have. So, set up a budget for how much money you are comfortable with spending this holiday season and be sure to stick to that.

Find a professional to help with stress near me.

Aimee Kauffman, LPC is a therapist in East Lansing, Michigan specializing in individual therapy. She has a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Michigan State University and has been in practice for more than a decade.

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