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Your Guide to Stress-Free Holidays
The holidays can be fun and frivolous for some, but it can also be stressful for others. And no amount of fairy lights and Christmas carols can soothe their nerves. If you belong to the latter category, fret not! We’ve got holiday stress relief tips that can last you through the new year!
Why are the holidays so stressful?
Everyone’s situation is different and there can be many reasons why holidays become stressful for many people. Common explanations include:
Financial burden: Giving gifts to family and friends may add financial strain, especially if one is going through a rough year. Celebrations, dinners, and drinks add to that toll.
Excessive commitments: With the exception of 2020, any other given year would be filled with invitations and activities to attend. Going to these parties may be fun but doing this every other night can become physically taxing.
Outdated traditions: Some may be forced to keep up with outdated family traditions that can cause rifts between generations and different family members.
Feelings of loneliness: For people who have lost loved ones in the past year, holidays are one of those occasions when they are reminded of this loss. This is only natural since it’s this time of the year when friends and family gather together.
The pressure of organisation, preparation: For homemakers, Christmas can be stressful due to a day-long preparation for dinner and other festivities. This pressure is doubled if one is entertaining a big group of guests. Aside from meals, someone organising a trip or event may also feel a sense of anxiety since traveling can be a bit more manic during this season.
Being overlooked: People from different cultures and religions may also feel left out of celebrations because of the overemphasis on Christmas.
What is holiday anxiety?
According to the HSE, anxiety is a "normal emotional response to many stressful situations". It can be triggered by both personal and professional problems. Aside from experiencing signs such as poor concentration, sweating, muscle tension, and headaches, it can also affect one’s behaviour.
Holiday anxiety is a type of anxiety triggered by festive seasons and the pressures that come with them. The seemingly unrealistic demands of the time may be too much for some people to handle. How people cope with this may vary — some may overexert themselves while others may choose to simply avoid the stressors and isolate themselves.
How does Christmas affect mental health?
Did you know that there are people who suffer from holiday depression? Also called Seasonal Affective Disorder, it has the symptoms of the usual depression but they occur at a particular time of the year, mostly during autumn and winter.
It’s important to note that if you think you have holiday anxiety or depression, don’t self-diagnose. Text 50808, a free 24/7 text service or visit the website of an organisation that deals with this, which you may find here.
Good mental health this Christmas
How is your state of mental health going into the yuletide season? Your mental health at Christmas can be determined by various things that happened to you the past year. If it had been difficult because of the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, relationship trouble, global pandemic, etc. then you shouldn’t expect all these concerns to magically disappear at Christmas.
As previously mentioned, these issues may even be emphasized during this time. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should stand by (or lie down) and let these feelings consume you. The first step is understanding more why you feel this way. So reading more about this topic (like what you’re doing now!) and asking the right people is already a good start.
Is it okay to skip Christmas?
Though it is perfectly fine to beg off holiday commitments, there is also a danger of isolating oneself. The key is balance. Learn to respect your own boundaries while remaining connected to your friends and family. For example, allow yourself to skip a few parties but don’t forget to send Christmas cards.
How do I deal with anxiety this Christmas?
One of the best ways to deal with holiday anxiety is to set realistic expectations, according to the HSE. You must also figure out the root or main cause of your anxiety. By knowing the source, you can come up with steps on how to address it. This is easier said than done so don’t forget to talk to a mental health professional if you think you need help.
What are the tips to stay stress-free during the holidays?
Here are some tips by HSE and the Mayo Clinic to avoid stress this Christmas season:
Acknowledge your feelings
As cliche as it may sound, the first step is acceptance. Acknowledge that you feel stressed or pressured so that you can later ask for help. By knowing why you feel, it can also lead you to think about why you feel this way.
Take a pause, take a breather
Despite the many things you should be doing (Christmas shopping, holiday work, etc.) you must set aside time for yourself. Do some self-care by simply taking a pause. Schedule some time for meditation or breathing exercises. Even several minutes can do wonders.
Reach out and help out
You must fight all tendencies to isolate yourself and instead reach out to your trusted friends and family members. At the same time, the HSE also recommends that the holidays may also be a good time to do something selfless. By doing simple acts of kindness, you may change someone's life. Research also shows that helping other people increases one's own sense of wellbeing.
Set realistic expectations and communicate them
Assess your situation and set expectations for yourself and others. If you can only buy food and cook for your immediate family and not the extended one, you must draw the line. Learn to say no. (If you explain your situation to your extended family, chances are they won’t harbour any resentment towards you.) On the other hand, if the financial aspect of the holidays is stressing you, it’s best to set a budget from the get-go and stick to it.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Your experience is unique. Some people may be better off or worse off than you. Often, especially at Christmas, we usually see those who are better off than us. They may have more lavish feasts or they may get more house calls, and it can make anyone feel inferior.
When you start realising that you’re comparing yourself to others, one way to get out of that rut is to count your own blessings.
Maintain your healthy habits
Run, jog, dance, do yoga, meditate. Keep moving and don’t let the darkness and the cold stop you. Now, more than ever, your body needs you to keep it fit because physical health has undeniable links to mental health.
If you’re not motivated enough to stick to an exercise schedule, why not sign up for a programme? With the unique combination of calorie management, daily walking and with online motivational seminars, BodySlims is here to put you back in control.
Have a look at our programmes, which include a calorie-controlled personalised diet plan, weekly support emails, weekly audio coaching, exclusive video content, personal weekly feedback, and more!
With programmes starting this January, there’s no better gift to give yourself if ever you experience a stressful holiday season. Book now >
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