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How to Effectively Manage Holiday Stress

How to Effectively Manage Holiday Stress

The holidays this year are sure to look different from last year’s. As the COVID age slowly begins to trail behind us and things return to normal, you may find yourself experiencing some stress or anxiety. The holidays are already a stressful time for many as is, but when you throw a global pandemic into the mix, it’s sure to add a whole new level of stress. From gift shopping to making plans, it’s normal to become overwhelmed. Thinking about all the things you must do to make sure the holidays are enjoyable for friends, family, and loved ones is enough to stress anyone out. Here are some tips for effectively managing holiday stress.


What is Holiday Stress?

One would think that the holidays are a joyful and jolly time. In many ways, they are. However, with fun comes responsibility. For many, the holidays can trigger feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, and even loneliness. As people scramble to grab last minute gifts or the last honey glazed ham, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Normal stress manifests differently for everyone, and everyone experiences it at one point or another in their lives.

According to U.S. News, the American Psychological Association reports that 38 percent of people experience higher stress levels than usual. This is a whopping increase for most civilians. The holidays can stretch people’s time and finances thin. For many, time and finances are a surefire way to quickly become stressed. There is the pressure to be jolly and happy that can be followed by depression and anxiety. It’s easier said than done, but with the following tips, it’s certainly possible!


Avoid Doing Too Much

The holidays are a time of travel, partying, and festive activities. If you’re trying to plan a trip across the country, work parties, and holiday shopping, your time can quickly become stretched thin. Allow yourself to partake in a handful of holiday activities per week to minimize doing too much. If you know what your plans are, plan for them! Mentally preparing yourself for social outings, trips, and shopping can help minimize your stress levels. Don’t be afraid to say no and establish healthy boundaries. You can enjoy the holiday season at home by making festive cookies or watching your favorite holiday movie with a cup of tea. The holiday season doesn’t have to be jam packed to be fun and fulfilling! Don’t be afraid to take it slow.


Identify Your Stressors

In the COVID age, get togethers, parties, and social gatherings can be an understandable source of stress and anxiety for everyone. As you prepare to spend time with friends, family, and loved ones again, you may feel an impending sense of anxiety to return to normal. Shopping in a crowded mall is stressful enough for anyone, but especially in times of a pandemic. Begin to identify your stressors by noticing what certain events or occasions are triggering your anxiety. This can be as simple as journaling or talking about it with a valued friend or family member. Verbalizing or writing out what’s bothering you can help you cognitively identify your stressors. By identifying your stressors, you’re effectively managing stress levels by minimizing their impact. If your friends or family want to go Black Friday shopping and you feel anxious, simply take a rain check and shop online instead.


Focus on What’s Most Important

The holidays, in theory, are about what and who we value in our lives. It’s about showing gratitude and appreciation for the things and people that have had a formative impact on our lives. Quality time is most important during the holidays. You don’t have to throw a holiday mixer to feel the effect of the holidays. Focus on what’s most important to you! Spending time with friends or family in an intimate setting is more than enough. Giving back, whether it’s with time or money, can put a smile on not only your face, but someone else’s. Things don’t have to be complicated to be effective. Stay true to your values and put them in action this holiday season to create memories you’ll never forget.


Stick to a Routine

The holidays tend to throw people off their regular routines as holiday parties, trips, and shopping have us running in circles. Try to stick to your regular routine as much as you can to avoid feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Routines are important since they help us stay grounded and in touch with ourselves. Plan ahead by setting aside time for all your holiday activities and endeavors. This can help you manage holiday stress efficiently without things becoming too overwhelming.


Homemade Gifts Are Just as Special

If you find yourself overwhelmed with finances or holiday shopping, sometimes homemade gifts are best! Things don’t have to be expensive to come from the heart. Crocheting, knitting, or bath products are wonderful gifts that you can make at home that won’t break the bank. Creating something heartfelt is just as much, if not more, rewarding than a traditionally bought gift. Spend some extra time creating something heartfelt to put a smile on your loved ones’ faces!


Take a Step Back

The holidays can easily and quickly become overwhelming. Taking a step back to express gratitude can help minimize the stress of the holidays. Practice mindfulness and deep breathing. Make a cup of tea. Indulge in self-care activities. All these things can help you manage stress with ease and comfort. While the holidays are a great time to focus on others, it’s also important to focus on yourself to avoid burnout. With a little self-care, even just by simply taking a moment for yourself, you can manage holiday stress much easier.

With all the wonderful ways to manage holiday stress, you can relax and enjoy the holidays with lessened stress levels. While some level of stress is normal during the holiday season, it doesn’t have to be debilitating or ruin your fun. Spending time with friends, family, and loved ones is one of the best things we can do for our mental health. Don’t forget to take the time to make the time this holiday season!


Getting Help

If you are looking to improve your mental health and wellness, we are ready to help on that journey. We have a team of psychiatrists, therapists and psychologists that specialize in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and medication management. Our team of compassionate and skilled professionals is available for in person appointments for patients in the DFW area. We also offer online appointments for patients in the Austin, DFW, Houston and San Antonio areas.






Dr. Michael Messina

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