No matter who you are or what you’ve been through, the holidays can be a trying time. In our Christmas cards, we wish warm wishes and in gatherings, we express words of joy and happiness. But when it comes down to it, the season can actually be filled with stress, painful sadness and loneliness.
It's a struggle to receive a handful of Christmas cards with happy families, the one thing you really want but can't have. Then you turn on social media and you're bombarded with matching pj's, Santa letters, kids making Christmas cookies and that darn Elf on the shelf!
So what do we do? How do we survive this holiday season when it's all about families and little ones? Our cheery attitudes can quickly shift to bah humbugs. Finding peace of mind is possible if we take the right steps. Here Dr. Gollop-Brown lists five ways to help ease your holiday stress.
1. Think Differently. Focus On What Matters Most To You.
Ask yourself these questions — what do you love about the holidays and what means the most to you during the holiday season? Are you passionate about family gatherings, do you enjoy shopping for gifts and the act of giving, or do you want to reconnect with certain people or your faith? Know what the holidays mean to you. If they don’t feed your heart and soul, redefine how you approach each one. Place your energy into what matters the most.
2. Plan Ahead. Set Realistic Expectations For You And Your Family.
Now that you’ve made decisions about where to focus your efforts during the holidays take a moment to choose what activities lead you to the greatest joys, not the highest stresses. Write down your plans, establish a budget (and stick to it), be flexible and set attainable goals.
3. Be Aware. Understand How You Feel And Respond Appropriately.
Be mindful of your feelings!! Take notice when you feel anxious or sad. Step back and determine what’s causing these shifts in mindset. If it’s in your control, remove those things that trigger the negativity. If you can’t shake the angst and continue to downward spiral, consider reaching out to a psychologist or psychiatrist (or a wonderful counselor here at UIRC) and work together to simplify and find ways to balance your life.
4. Eliminate The Stress. Learn To Take Care Of Yourself.
There are ways to eliminate tension during the holidays. When you feel stress levels rise, take a moment of pause, breathe and relax. Ensure you are getting sufficient rest. The increased demands can wear you down and a good night’s rest can rejuvenate your mind and body. Build in time to engage yourself in activities that help you de-stress — get a massage, head to the gym, play a game with a loved one, go on a walk, journal or practice some type of meditation and yoga.
5. Celebrate. Remember To Be Present And Enjoy The Holidays.
The holidays are a time to rejoice and spend quality time with the ones you love. When you create your plan, build in time during and after, to live in the moment. It’s been a long year, and you deserve a pat on the back. When the holidays are behind you find something you enjoy and make it happen. And, if you’ve avoided putting too much on your credit card, you definitely have a reason to jump for joy.