It’s suddenly December and the holiday season is in full swing. Do you feel the stress already? Whew, I do. It’s no secret that while this time is supposed to be festive and merry, it can be overwhelming and stressful for many.
Studies show that nearly half of people feel more stressed during the holidays than they do the rest of the year and nearly 20 percent feel very stressed. There are a lot of expectations built into our holidays, including the expectation to seem to be happy even if you don’t really feel that way.
What is the impact of this holiday stress? It can affect your mood and your quality of sleep. It can impact your relationships, your physical health, and your mental health. But there are things you can do to help minimize stress.
Acknowledge your feelings. Be open and aware that the holidays are a stressful time for many and stay aware of your feelings. If you’ve had a recent loss, or can’t be with loved ones, it’s okay to feel sad and to take the time to express those feelings.
Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect. And as families change and grow this year’s celebrations may not look like those of the past, and that’s okay. Choose a few traditions to hold onto but be open to starting new ones.
Set aside differences. If there’s ever a time to accept family members and loved ones as they are, it is during the holidays. Set aside grievances to discuss at another time, not over the holiday dinner table.
Don’t leave behind healthy habits. The holidays are certainly a time to indulge but shouldn’t be a free-for-all – that only adds to stress and guilt. Try to eat healthy meals when you can, include some physical activity in your day, and get plenty of sleep.
Take a breather! You can’t do it all. Try to take time for yourself. Just 15 minutes alone, with no distractions, can refresh you. Find something you enjoy that calms your mind like sitting with a cup of copy and a book or taking a quick walk outside.
Managing stress is one thing, finding joy is another. During this holiday season remember that, according to author Brene Brown, after years of research and interviewing thousands of people, she found one surprising thing: every single person she interviewed who described themselves as joyful, also actively practices gratitude. Gratitude drives joy. And what better time to practice gratitude than during the holidays?
So in the midst of the whirlwind holiday season, take action to recognize the things you’re grateful for, big and small. If you don’t already have a gratitude practice, try this: take just one minute in each busy day to stop and say, “I’m so grateful for…” and start to welcome more joy into your life!
Written by Michelle O’Brien, Manager of Marketing & Communications
Source: Healthy Lifestyle: Stress Management, mayoclinic.com