Merry Stress Management
We’ve all been there. You’re standing in line at a crowded shopping mall, there aren’t enough cashiers, and the line is moving unbelievably slow. It took more than 15 minutes to find a parking spot and now you’re running late but it’s okay because the sound system is blaring Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you,” right?
For many, the winter holidays mark a festive but also difficult time. It seems like everything demands our attention. Work deadlines to end off the year, pressure to buy well-received gifts, financial stress, unwanted conversations with family and not to mention the regular regimen of eating healthy and exercising. It’s a unique time because after the holiday season, this stress will go away. It’s the same stress that is also a predictable stress that we have the power to manage. In a survey conducted by Healthline in 2015, 62% of people surveyed reported elevated stress levels during the holidays, while 10% reported no stress whatsoever. Great for that 10%, but what can the majority do to thrive this holiday season?
…62% of people surveyed reported elevated stress levels during the holidays…
1. Making a list, checking it twice
Whether you are naughty or nice, make a list of what needs to be done. By writing it down you effectively declutter your mind and ensures that you don’t forget key tasks. Having your to-do list swirl around in your head will inevitably ensure that random tasks will pop up at the wrong time when you are already doing a million things or when you’re trying to catch some z’s. While pen and paper works the best, you can also use a notes app on your smartphone.
it’s perfectly okay to not be in the Christmas spirit.
2. Channel kind Grinch vibes
The Grinch vibe is to say no. Despite what you are told, it’s perfectly okay to not be in the Christmas spirit. In plain terms, you can say no to obligations/responsibilities. Yes, it is possible to say no from a kind place, unlike the Grinch. Adding obligations to your plate might seems like a good idea to channel the holiday/Christmas spirit, however the spirit should not be draining you or stop you from doing the things that you truly enjoy. This time more than any other time you should protect your valuable time and energy.
Ways to say no:
- “Thank you for thinking of me. I have this project that I am working on right now.”
- “I am fully committed to doing this task before I can take on anything else.”
- “Thank you for inviting me, unfortunately I can’t make it out to the Christmas party this year.”
3. Family time
If it’s uncomfortable to be around family because you may be avoiding some members and/or conversations, then keep in mind that the holidays are a time for families to get together and enjoy each other’s company. Stick to activities that you can jointly enjoy and/or areas of conversation that are of interest to both parties. Be mindful of your words and avoid combative language. Keep in mind that you can have a conversation someone without having the same perspective. Accept that you may not change the other person’s mind which will ease the tension in conversation. When all else fails, you can end a conversation before you see it turning hostile and change the topic to something you do agree upon.
For some people the holidays mark a sad time when there may be missing family members who have passed away. During this time, gift yourself some TLC without isolating yourself. While you don’t have to force yourself to be happy, you can take a walk, get some air, acknowledge your grief and talk to a trusted friend or family member.
4. Deck the halls with self care
Because the holiday season requires us to take on more responsibility than usual, our brain goes into overdrive. It may be acceptable for us to let go of personal health habits to complete other activities (ex: skipping exercise because of late working hours). Your daily routine is how you take care of your mind and body. It may include things such as physical activity, a cup of tea, journaling, getting to bed at a decent hour. Does it make sense to let go of your routine during the most stressful time of year? During the holidays you can keep your mental and physical stability by continuing your self care routine. Things may shift around a bit and you may skip some days but don’t toss your routine out of the window completely.
5. Presents under the tree
Are you also a well-deserving? YES! Be kind to yourself and give yourself a gift every day!
Self care gift ideas:
- Take some time off of work to do something you enjoy
- Sleep in for one day
- Learn something new (ex: new recipe, new way to wrap presents, etc.)
- Reminisce about good memories from the past year
- Reflect on the passing year and make some goals for next year
- Laugh! Watch a comedy show
- Take advantage of your health benefits before the year ends
Stress around the holidays can come out in different ways. For some it can be difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, feeling angry, irritable or out of control, experiencing headaches, poor energy, or body aches and pains. Pay attention to your stress signals and take care of yourself.