The holiday season marks a busy and stressful time of year. There can be a lot of joy throughout the season, but for many individuals the holidays also bring a lot of stress and anxiety. As traditions and get-togethers may look different this year amid the pandemic, experiencing increased stress before or during this time of year is normal.
The best way to conquer the holidays and any additional stress that comes with them is to plan ahead. Here are five tips to help you prepare and avoid becoming overwhelmed by the holidays:
- Develop a good self-care routine. The best way to make sure your mental and emotional health are in good shape during the holidays is to make sure they are taken care of before the holidays arrive. Make time for yourself to relax, get good sleep and prepare yourself for the typical stressors that may arise during your holiday plans.
- Eat healthy. The holidays are always filled with delicious food but rarely do we find ourselves eating healthy or “normal.” These changes often lead to feeling out of sorts or even guilty for not watching what we eat. That is why eating healthy in the days and weeks leading up to a special holiday or event is even more important should you decide to indulge in your holiday favorites. Know that it is OK to treat yourself without feeling guilty. Then, make a plan to get back on track after the holidays.
- It’s okay to say no. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed at any point during the holidays, remember that it’s okay to say no. Whether it’s a Black Friday shopping trip or cooking a big meal for family, people will understand if you are feeling overwhelmed. Be cognizant of how you are feeling and with a little compassion and honesty, you will find friends and family will be surprisingly understanding.
- Set a budget for the holidays. Money can be a great stressor for so many people, particularly during the holiday season. We can easily lose sight of the amount we are spending on “extras” like traveling, gifts, decorations or special events. Don’t let your bank account suffer this holiday season. Set a budget and do your best to stick to it. Be creative when it comes to gift giving — give the gift of spending time with a loved one, for example. Again, friends and family will be understanding if you explain you have set limits to your holiday spending.
- Make new traditions. It’s no shock that this holiday season will look and feel different, but that does not mean the magic and fun of the season cannot happen in a new way. Be open to starting new traditions or reinvent your former traditions to be more pandemic-friendly. For example, hosting a group chat online allows you to catch up with friends and family without concerns about sharing germs. If sharing personal updates makes you nervous, prepare some responses in advance and understand that everyone has had a challenging and disruptive year. Try to avoid comparing your situation with others and be proud of your own accomplishments, no matter how big or small.
It’s totally normal for the holiday season to become overwhelming or emotional. If you or a loved one is suffering from a mental health issue, contact a treatment facility for help. To learn more about the breadth of services offered at Havenwood Behavioral Health, visit havenwoodbehavioral.com/or call us at (864) 660-6217. With proper treatment and support, you can overcome addiction.