Managing Holiday Stress by Jade Caswell, MA
Holidays can be a festive time of the year, with favorite traditions, delightful foods, and
time off. However, it may also be a time of sadness and angst for many, with the expectations
of the season causing unwelcome stress and anxiety. According to a study conducted by the
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on holiday stressors, 63% of research participants
admitted to feeling financially strained, 57% reported feeling 'too much pressure' during the
holiday season and 24% of people diagnosed with a mental health condition reported the
holidays made them feel 'lot worse'. This research speaks for itself: many of us are stressed
during the holiday season, and mental health symptoms may be exacerbated during this time.
Add in family stressors, prepping holiday meals, and checking items off everyone's wish list and
this could feel overwhelming! Read on for tips to stay balanced this holiday season.
1. Consider Expectations
Try to be realistic about what can and cannot be accomplished this holiday season. For
instance, inviting the whole extended family to a holiday party may sound enticing, however,
consider your time and resources before committing yourself to such an undertaking. Inviting
immediate family members may be a more realistic goal. Managing social media use and
avoiding comparisons to others' holiday experiences are also crucial steps to promote wellbeing
during this time.
2. Practice Self Care
During holidays, our routines may be disrupted, with many things on our to-do list,
gatherings to attend, and people to care for. This is why it is important to keep up with our self-
care practices during this time, so we can feel rested and rejuvenated moving into the new
year. Self-care practices might look like sticking to our bedtime routine, not over-indulging in
alcohol or other addictive substances, getting in a daily dose of fresh air and mindful
movement, continuing with regularly scheduled therapy sessions, and saying 'no' to
3. Manage Feelings of Grief & Loss
Holidays are often a time to reflect on memories of the past, including people and
places that may no longer be with us. Recent losses around the holiday season can complicate
the grieving process and create a mixture of emotions. Finding ways to commemorate lost
loved ones, creating new family traditions, and remembering their life stories may help process
grief in a healthy way, and allow us to connect with others.
Stay safe and healthy this holiday season!
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