Unwelcomed guests, toxic relatives, a dizzying array of errands. The holiday season can bring lots of physical and mental stress. When not mitigated, holiday stress can result in illnesses during or after the holidays. Too many people at home can also trigger meltdowns and outbursts, which can ruin the entire occasion. We want to enjoy the holiday as much as possible. However, we should also recognize our limitations and plan certain interventions to balance things and avoid stress.
In these times of the pandemic, your holidays might also look and feel different than what you are used to. We need to avoid crowds, maintain a safe distance from family and friends, or practice healthy habits to keep ourselves strong and healthy. You might be caught off guard by these changes and experience more stress. To prevent this from happening, we have to manage our expectations and stay relaxed.
Maybe we have to start on how we can program our minds to stay cool in a stressful situation. One effective way to do this is to practice mindfulness. Reminiscing that fancy Christmas light installation you had at home last year? Missing household members who are currently living in other states? We can prevent negative thoughts from ruining our holidays.
With mindfulness, you practice habits to bring your attention to the present moment accepting all thoughts about the past, present, and future with no judgment. Meditation is a common way to practice mindfulness. You can also include a change in point of view and attitude toward life in your practice.
Are you frustrated to watch your holiday plans go down the drain? Life is not perfect, and you have to accept these imperfections. You might want to console yourself by saying, “It’s OK if things are not perfect right now. Imperfect events are truly healthy and normal.”
Focusing on what really counts.
Being stuck in traffic or waiting in line in a grocery shop can be stressful. But consider looking beyond the moment and think of better things waiting for you at home. Think about the kindness and togetherness that you are experiencing during the holidays.
Respond with gentleness and compassion.
Did another vehicle spend past you while you are diligently waiting for the Green traffic light? Keep your calm and take a few deep breaths while waiting for your mood to settle down. Then, maybe you can think that the person doing that has a reason for acting like that.
Keep practicing healthy habits.
Holidays are meant to be enjoyed. However, enjoying does not always equate to overindulging. We can still enjoy while staying on the line and taking care of our mind and body. It is normal to find a wide array of sweets and calorie-filled pastries and yummy food on the buffet. You don’t have to try all of them. Consider choosing healthy food choices and forgo desserts, sweets, cheese, or drinks.
Extra activities in your routine should not make you forget your health goals and fitness routines. Continue jogging or doing physical exercises to burn all the calories you accumulated while enjoying the family dinner. Feeling exhausted after spending a long night talking and hanging out with friends and relatives? Maybe it’s time to have an early night and get plenty of sleep.
Be realistic and learn to say no.
Saying yes to all dinner invitations will leave you feeling drained and overwhelmed. People who truly care will understand why you have to give up some projects and activities for more meaningful gatherings. Anticipate and list down all invitations in advance and select which ones you can commit.
It is best to communicate your refusal days before the event to show politeness and respect to the ones inviting you. If your presence is important and the other person does not take No for an answer, maybe it is time to sacrifice and let go of some activities to make room for that invitation where you are most needed.
Holiday stress is not a joke. Take time to examine yourself if you are feeling its most common, pressing symptoms. Don’t be scared to talk about it with your spouse, friend, or family member so that they can assist you in your holiday responsibilities. If the physical and mental symptoms have become alarming, consider taking a few days away from the celebrations.
Consider seeking help from a professional or counselor if you cannot cope with being sad, anxious, or stressed during the holiday. The professional can help you determine holiday triggers like financial lack or personal demands. Doing so can help you learn how to stay calm and avoid meltdowns.