The holidays are usually a happy time of the year filled with parties and gatherings with family and friends. While many of us look forward to celebrating the holidays, many people aren’t too thrilled during this time of year. Conflict with family members over the holidays (i.e, Thanksgiving dinner) is a major contributor to holiday blues.
Another major reason of unhappiness during the holiday season is due to increased financial pressures. True, gift giving is stressful! It is even more stressful when you don’t have much to give…especially if you are going though some negative financial circumstances (layoff, paying medical bills or legal bills).
Unfortunately, when people are stressed out, they tend to indulge in drinking, overeating and recreational drugs which can lead to serious health problems and other troubles.
While you may have learned to deal with holiday stress over the years, consider these additional tips to manage holiday stress this year:
1) Set realistic goals and expectations
Yes, there’s a lot to do….shopping, cleaning, organizing, cooking, decorating, writing cards, and other to-do’s. Remember to keep your goals simple. Organize your time by making lists and prioritizing important activities. Pace yourself so that you don’t do everything in one day.
During the holidays, it might be more difficult to stick to your goal of exercising OR losing weight. Instead of giving up, be flexible and realistic. After all, the holidays can be a busy time. So the key is FLEXIBILITY. Of course, when the holidays are over, come January, you can re-establish one exercise goal, and perhaps, one dietary goal. Keeping things simple helps you get back on track.
2) Have a budget so you don’t overspend
If you want to stick to a budget, then you need to set one. Many times, people have no idea what their holiday spending will look like. Before going out and buying all of of those wonderful gifts, you need to figure out who you are buying for, and how much you plan on spending for each person.
Ideally, saving up throughout the year can help so that you don’t have to rack up too much holiday debt on your credit cards. If you didn’t have time to save, then make it a point to start doing that next year. Remember, stashing away $50 each month into a Christmas fund is a good New Year’s goal.
3) Delegate tasks to family members
Unfortunately, many people (including myself) tend to bear the brunt of the holiday preparation. Some of us like to think we are “super woman” (LOL!).
Planning holiday meals, shopping for gifts, cooking, cleaning, decorating, wrapping presents, addressing Christmas cards, etc. When we put ourselves in this position, we get less sleep, feel less rested, and stress ourselves out. Thankfully, I have gotten better over the years as I have learned to delegate to other family members, i.e, my husband, and my son, who are both over 21 years old, and can really do their share of chores like organizing the decorations, carrying boxes & shopping bags, AND even helping in the kitchen. Thankfully, my husband loves to cook!
4) Find inexpensive ways to enjoy the season
If finances are tight, then why not create a simpler Christmas. Focus on the meaning of Christmas. It’s really unfortunate how commercialized this holiday has become. Here are some ways to create a Simple Christmas:
* Set the intention of buying less
* Spend time with family, i.e, plan outings to see the Christmas Lights & enjoy a delicious meal together
* Volunteer for a great cause
* Watch Christmas movies that focus on love & hope
* Set aside time for silence and prayer
5) Seek counseling or attend support groups
Sometimes, we experience sadness, loneliness and anxiety during the holidays. Feelings of grief due to the loss of a family member, friend or relationship are common. It’s helpful to acknowledge our lost loved ones during celebrations. Why not keep the memories alive by telling stories about them?
For those suffering from holiday depression, they can benefit from social support through mental health counseling and even community support groups. Reaching out to people who make you laugh and help you get a different perspective in life is a great way to alleviate feelings of loneliness.
And don’t underestimate the power of volunteering. Helping others is an excellent way to remind yourself about the meaning of the holidays. Doing something nice for others helps mitigate unhappy feelings since you are able to focus on the needs of others.
6) Avoid excessive drinking
I know many celebrations call for drinks, drinks, and more drinks. Before you decide to “hit the bottle”, remember, excessive drinking actually increases feelings of depression. Remember, don’t drink and drive….as that is a recipe for disaster. Doing so put yourself in danger as well as the people around you.
You don’t want to wake up to a Christmas Nightmare. It happens far too much….regrets always come later, so PLEASE practice safe drinking.