4 Tips for Handling Stress During the Holidays
The holidays are a big time of year for just about everyone. You often get the chance to spend extra time with friends and family, with the holiday season bringing a lot of good memories, tasty food, and memorable celebrations. But when it comes to the holiday season, it’s equally common for things to get especially stressful as well.
That stress can appear in a number of ways, ranging from your social battery dipping to worrying about your monthly budget. To help get you through the holiday season, we’ve rounded up a few tips that are able to cut down the stress you might be used to during the last few months of the year.
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1. Don’t overload yourself with too much.
The holiday season is a mish-mash of excitement and stress. With that mix of emotions, taking the time to not overload yourself with too much can go a long way to cutting back on your stress. When we look at not overloading ourselves, this can mean more than just passing up on a social event here and there.
Overloading yourself can happen in terms of spending time with family at home and friends at parties. But overloading yourself can appear in other ways, like making too many travel plans, taking on more at work in preparation for the holiday season, and letting your plans overlap too much. Maintain the idea that you’re keeping your energy levels in check. It can go a long way to reduce your stress and help you to have a freer schedule.
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2. Plan ahead.
In a Stanford University study, researchers discovered that stress can impact goal-directed behavior, concluding that when people are stressed, they make less effective and efficient plans. So for this holiday season, consider creating plans ahead of time before you’re in the midst of what is often a busy time of year. Make sure you have an understanding of what your time will look like.
While your plans don’t necessarily have to fall into the effective or efficient category, having even a simple plan can go a long way. Think back to past years when you may have felt you were constantly running around with no idea what would come next. Just writing down your plans a few weeks ahead of time (i.e. dates for events, shopping plans, dinner with friends, what days you take off from work) can lay everything out in one calendar for you to easily reference.
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3. Set boundaries.
Setting boundaries can be especially beneficial during the holidays. Boundaries are a way for you to take stock of what you can handle, whether it’s coming from others or yourself. The holiday season is meant to be a fun and festive time, which can strangely push us to spread ourselves way too thin. This might take shape in being pressured to travel home to see family you don’t exactly get along with or simply not taking time for yourself when you surely need it.
To set boundaries this season, take a moment to think about what you really want out of the holidays this year. Setting boundaries looks different for everyone, but here are a few examples of how you might approach setting boundaries.
- Early on, establish that you don’t want family members showing up to your home uninvited.
- Tell family and friends that you don’t plan on attending certain events. You can provide a reason if you want, but something simple like “I don’t want to overstretch myself this month” could work just fine.
- If you’re hosting guests, be sure to take breaks from your hosting duties; maybe even ask for help in cleaning up.
- Are you planning to visit extended family that tends to overwhelm you? Consider staying with a local friend or at a hotel for the time you’re there. This will give you some needed privacy and space to recharge — especially in a cozy pullover hoodie.
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4. Work out a budget before the holidays.
Budgeting can be a bore at any time of year. It’s not just during the holidays. But a strong budget specifically laid out for the holiday season is a great way to cut back on financial worries. Money can certainly be a touchy subject to discuss, but knowing what you have as you go into the end-of-year celebrations can significantly ease your stress.
This holiday budget doesn’t have to be super complicated either. It can be as simple as looking at your expected income for the holidays, what your typical monthly bills are, anything you want to put into savings, and what will likely be left afterward. From there, determine what you’re comfortable spending during the holidays and keep that number in mind as you plan hangouts and brainstorm gift ideas.
— Paige Lyman
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