Typically the upcoming holiday months are met with anticipation and excitement. We envision that idyllic scene of sitting by a cozy, warm fireplace with a pumpkin spice latte nestled in one hand while balancing a novel in the other. However, for some, the reality is that a cozy, warm fire is nonexistent, and instead the fireplace sits cold and barren due to a mountain of other priorities on a growing to-do list. As for that pumpkin spice latte, that has been sitting cold in the microwave for the past four hours because well…life! Now add on a holiday vacation or trip to visit family. Can you feel your blood pressure rising?!?! Why is it that when the “happiest time of year” rolls around, all we feel is dread? What is the reason for all this holiday stress?
‘Tis the Season for more Holiday Stressors
Certain factors can lead to an increase in our stress and anxiety levels during the holiday season. These include high expectations that we place on ourselves in wanting to recreate that picture-perfect image we see all over our social media feeds. Another contributing factor could be financial stressors with being able to provide for family and loved ones. Also, the holidays are a time to spend with family, but for some, family relations are strained or even nonexistent. Lastly, another factor that could lead to holiday stress is traveling. For some people, the planning, transportation, lodging, and financial burden can be all too overwhelming. Does any of this sound familiar???
Hope for the Holidays
Here are some tips to help reduce the holiday stress so that you can fully enjoy the season.
- Set Realistic Expectations and Boundaries: Set up some parameters when it comes to screen time and what you allow yourself to see on your feed. If what you’re viewing stirs up feelings of inadequacy then it’s time to delete what you allow into your social media space.
- Invite Others to Help: Whether it’s creating decor or baking/cooking holiday meals, enlist the help of your children, friends, and loved ones. Not only does this allow the people closest to you to show up for you and help bear your burden, but it also promotes spending quality time together!
- Plan Ahead with Finances: Set a budget, or open a savings account dedicated solely to seasonal spending needs like gifts, travel, meals, etc. When the holidays roll around, that extra savings will be a huge relief and one less thing you’ll need to think about.
What’s your Plan for the Holidays?
If you struggle with strained family relationships then it may be difficult to feel like celebrating during the holidays. Instead of closing yourself off completely take time to nurture those relationships with friends, coworkers, and neighbors. These relationships that you spend time investing in can be the “family” that you end up spending your holidays with. When it comes to reducing holiday travel stress try to plan trips in advance. It may help to “schedule” your holiday planning right before Summer kicks off into full swing that way by the time the new school year starts that will be one less thing to worry about. Also, see if you can make accommodations or arrangements with family or friends such as alternating years with who visits whom and so forth. To ease some of the financial burden see if you can stay with family or if they can share in some of the expenses.
Ultimately, the holidays are a time of celebration and my hope for you is that you give yourself as much opportunity to enjoy those experiences surrounded by the people you care about. If you find that you continue to struggle with overwhelming symptoms of stress and anxiety seek professional care. Working with a mental health therapist directly can teach you skills to help reduce and manage your emotional stress. You can also look into this great article for more tips! Wishing you all a happy and healthy holiday season!
If you’d like to discuss seasonal stressors, click here to schedule a time on Noelle’s calendar.