The first step to coping with holiday stress is identifying its cause. Here are 13 possible stressors during the holiday season and how you can beat them.
In this article:
- Various Scents and Smells
- Having Too Many Things to Do
- Preparing Holiday Meals
- Too Many Parties
- Too Few Parties
- Upset Stomach
- Lack of Exercise or Poor Health
- Not Having a Schedule
- High Expectations
- Not Prioritizing Activities
- Not Used to Having So Much or So Little Free Time
- Work Pressure
- Mental Health Problems, like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Holiday Stress Management: 13 Causes and Ways to Overcome Them
1. Various Scents and Smells
During the holidays, you’re exposed to different scents and odors, which can overwhelm your sense of smell. Even the nose can get stressed, which can lead to more stress hormones in our body.
To counteract this, try bringing in natural scents that can refresh your sense of smell and even lift your mood. Citrus, for example, can help reduce stress hormones and improve your mood.
2. Having Too Many Things to Do
To have a stress-free holiday season, you should make relaxation a priority, not a luxury.
Having too many things to do and no work-life balance drains not only your energy but also your “joy reserves,” which are the things you can tap into to make you feel better if you’re feeling down.
On top of your other responsibilities, the holidays can add even more work to do. Here are some of the things that can help you go through your to-do list in one piece:
- Having enough sleep
- Try meditating daily, even for a short time. Meditation can help you relax and clear your head, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Power naps
- Spending time with friends and family
- Going into a quiet, peaceful area once in a while, then doing deep breaths
3. Preparing Holiday Meals
Preparing meals is already hard in itself, but the holidays take it to a whole other level. Here are some of the things you have to remember when preparing holiday meals to keep your stress levels down:
- Do it for the right reasons. Don’t do it because you want to keep up with the Joneses or impress guests. These can also cause you to overspend and do complicated recipes.
- Plan your shopping. Avoid the holiday rush. Once you’ve decided on your holiday menu, try to get as many things as you can ahead of time.
- Don’t complicate things. Do you need to do that complicated recipe or can you simplify? Have you considered going for some store-bought dishes instead of cooking everything?
- Make certain dishes ahead. If you can make certain dishes ahead of time, do it. This spares you from spending eight hours cooking and not spending enough quality time with your loved ones.
4. Too Many Parties
Are the holiday invitations starting to creep in and you’re getting anxious because you feel the need to attend all of them? If some events don’t get you excited, feel like a chore to attend, or you feel stressed when thinking about them, consider skipping them.
5. Too Few Parties
On the other hand, if you feel like you can still add more to your holiday social calendar and want to be more social, consider throwing a party yourself. Make sure that doing so won’t be too much of a stressor to you.
6. Upset Stomach
Holiday bloating is real. While celebrating with food is one of the best ways to enjoy the holidays, your body may not feel the same.
The same also applies to drinking. It’s easy to get carried away during the holidays, but this can also contribute to your discomfort.
An upset stomach can be a mood killer. Here are some things you can do to relieve an upset stomach:
- Have some peppermint candy available.
- Store some apple cider vinegar in the pantry.
- Eat or drink something bitter.
- Have some refreshing tea like chamomile or lavender.
- Have essential oils like peppermint and cardamom, which can help relieve nausea.
- Prepare a heating pad.
- Take a warm bath.
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol when you’re full.
- Drink water.
Light physical activity can also help with digestion. However, if you get nauseous, you may want to try sitting or standing first instead of lying down.
If symptoms persist for more than two days, you may want to consult a doctor.
7. Lack of Exercise or Poor Health
Some people have a regular workout, but then their fitness routine stops during the holidays. This change can lead to discomfort and a drop in energy levels.
If you want to take it easy during the holidays, don’t stop working out completely. You can still do light-to-moderate workouts during this time.
8. Not Having a Schedule
Proper time management and having a schedule help you manage stress during the holidays. This is especially necessary during the holidays when your social calendar and to-do list blows up.
Some holiday stress comes from improper or insufficient planning. A sudden change can throw your plans out of the window.
However, being too rigid in your plans and schedule also isn’t right and could lead to disappointments. Keep the essentials and leave some room for slight changes and unexpected events.
9. High Expectations
In some cases, you are your own worst enemy. Don’t put too much on yourself during this season.
It’s okay if your gifts aren’t perfectly-wrapped or your turkey didn’t come out of the oven looking like something from a TV show. Allow yourself to enjoy and make the most of this season.
10. Not Prioritizing Activities
A schedule helps you focus on time. A priority helps you focus on your goal.
- Quality Time – Are you prioritizing family time? Then, plan your schedule around getting that quality time with them.
- Holiday Stress Relief and Self-Care – Do you want some alone time to recharge for the new year? Plan your holiday calendar around your solo trip or plans.
Having both a schedule and a priority can help minimize stress. At the same time, having the discipline to have both help you manage stress even after the holidays.
11. Not Used to Having So Much or So Little Free Time
Believe it or not, too much free time can also be a stressor for some. This is especially true for people who are always on-the-go and have little free time.
They can get bored or restless during the holidays.
On the other side of the spectrum, having too little time is also bad. Imagine if you don’t have a lot of free time and on top of that, you add your holiday schedule and to-do list.
Again, having a schedule and a priority can ease holiday stress.
12. Work Pressure
Sometimes, the pressure of work slowly creeps in even when you’re home for the holidays. If you find yourself in this situation, try to distract yourself or meditate.
Avoid thinking about work during your break and give time for yourself to enjoy the holidays. Make the most of your time off and focus on the season.
13. Mental Health Problems, like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) occurs when the seasons change. Most people simply brush it off as winter blues, but some might have more difficulty dealing with SAD.
The symptoms of SAD are similar to the symptoms of depression. This includes losing interest in activities the person once enjoyed, appetite or weight changes, and feelings of hopelessness.
If this is the case, it might be a good idea to consult a mental health professional. This person can provide strategies to help cope with this seasonal mental health problem, such as light therapy, medication, and psychotherapy.
Holiday stress will always be there. What people need to learn are stress management techniques as well as finding the source of stress.
Do you experience holiday stress? How do you cope with it? Let us discuss this in the comments section below.
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