How to Feel Merry and Bright: 3 Tips to Avoid Holiday Stress

December 26, 2013

holiday stress tipsThe holidays are supposed to be a fun and merry time, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. The holidays can be stressful for many people. There are presents to buy, gifts to wrap, family events to attend and much office work to do on a shortened schedule. The holidays are also difficult for those coping with financial worries and loss of loved ones during the year.

If you’re feeling stressed and blue instead of merry and bright, you might wonder how to get through this difficult time. One important thing to remember is that stress is the body’s natural reaction to what it perceives as threats. This can range from truly dangerous situations to issues such as rushing to accomplish a long to-do-list or feeling apprehensive about family gatherings during the holidays. According to the Mayo Clinic, some of the symptoms of stress include sleeplessness, headaches, weight fluctuations, an upset stomach and back pain. People who are under stress report feeling angry, irritable, depressed and unable to focus. It can ruin the holidays. Here are three tips to help you reduce stress and feel more joyful as you deck the halls.

    Pencil on top of a spiral bound calendar.

  1. Set a schedule. Make a prioritized list of things to do. Put the most important items at the top, and allow yourself time to get them done. Give yourself permission to leave some things off of your list. Don’t worry about them. Focus on your accomplishments instead.
  2. Do something different. If spending two days with certain family members makes you feel anxious, consider what would happen if you made a change. Go beyond your initial reaction that the world may come to an end. Weigh the pros and cons, and find a solution that suits you without making you stressed. For example, don’t spend the night at your parents’ house if it causes you unhappiness. Drop by for dinner only, and enjoy the brief time that you do spend together.
  3. Stick to your budget. You may want to show your affection and appreciation for friends and family by buying gifts for them during the holidays. Think of simple, inexpensive and creative ways to let loved ones know you care without overspending. Going over your budget may lead to stressful situations that take the joy out of giving. Perhaps you can babysit your sister’s children on a weekend night of her choice instead of buying her a new outfit that you can’t afford.

If you are feeling stressed, you may wish to talk with someone about how to cope with unpleasant feelings during the holidays and throughout the year. Click here to learn how an experienced clinical New York City psychologist can help assess your situation.

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