So you know this season suppose to be all about joy, family, and parties? But for you (and others) it is not about holiday cheer and getting what you want on Christmas morning. It is a time of extreme stress. Your financial situation may not be what you want it to be. You may be suffering from emotional overload. You could be dealing with PTSD. This is more than holiday blues. This is a real disorder that robs the happiness of the holidays. It is so easy to get caught up in the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses” and spending more than you should on extravagant gifts or having the best-decorated house on the block. Take a few minutes – or even a few days – before you buy to check-in with yourself and make sure that your fulfillment levels on a purchase match the price you are paying for it.
During this time of year, people often resort to bad habits. In part, that’s because, during the holidays, people tend to experience heightened emotions. You may feel overcome by loneliness, become annoyed by meddling relatives or lose patience with your loved ones. And in the present economy, you also may be worried about how you’ll be able to pay for gifts without maxing out your credit cards. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands, parties, shopping, baking, cleaning and entertaining, to name just a few.
But with some practical tips, you can minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.
Here are some tips to manage your stress level for the upcoming season.
The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones.
Set aside differences
Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don't live up to all of your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes wrong. Chances are they're feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.
Stick to a budget
Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts.
Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That'll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
Learn to say no
Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity.
Don't abandon healthy habits
Don't let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions: Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don't go overboard on ALL that's on the table or in the bar. Get plenty of sleep. Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
Take a breather
Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm.
Seek professional help if you need it
Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Don't let the holidays become something you dread.
Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can descend during the holidays. Learn to recognize your holiday triggers, such as financial pressures or personal demands, so you can combat them before they lead to a meltdown. With a little planning and some positive thinking, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.
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