Managing Stress During the Holiday Season

Whether it’s figuring out schedules to arrange a get together or squeezing in last minute shopping, the holiday season often adds responsibilities to your already busy schedule.

Unfortunately, added responsibilities during the holiday season can cause feelings of stress, frustration and anxiety. In addition, the increased time spent with family members can cause additional strain for some. Stress management is an essential element of self-care, and can go a long way toward a healthy lifestyle.

Below are four tips to help you manage stress amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays:

  1. It’s OK to say no. When added holiday obligations start to feel overwhelming, it is important to evaluate your to-do list. Having a long list of “to-do’s” is one of the top causes of stress for adults in the United States. To keep from overextending yourself, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to say no. Make sure to carve out time for yourself to do the things that make you feel relaxed and happy during this period. Keep self-care as a priority on your list, even though it may feel like you’re disappointing someone if you can’t take on a task. Know your limits and only take on what you have time for.
  2. Take a break. Stress may weigh particularly heavily when you feel like there is outward pressure to finish a task — whether it’s family expectations, a social obligation or a work deadline. If you can’t say no to the cause of stress, remember that it’s okay to take yourself out of the situation, even if it’s just for a momentary breather. Set down the shopping list or walk away from those dirty dishes for a few minutes.
  3. Check in with your body. While stress may only feel like a mental strain, it can cause adverse physical health risks as well. From high blood pressure to chronic back pain, stress can come with a whole slew of unpredictable symptoms. If you’re feeling stressed, do a quick check-in with your body. Are you sore? Tired? Hungry? Eating healthy and getting a good night’s sleep are often the keys to long-term stress management.
  4. Get Involved. Volunteering in your community can be a restorative, mindful way to manage stress. Luckily, the holiday season provides ample opportunity to do some good. Research shows that volunteering can positively benefit both your mental and physical health. Volunteering often provides people with a sense of productivity and gratitude, both of which are integral to managing stress. 

While holiday stress is sometimes unavoidable, learning how to manage it is valuable, important, and differs for every person. Figuring out the stress relief techniques that work for you goes a long way toward making happy holiday memories that will last forever.