We all know that the holidays can be very busy, stressful, and hectic.
Family, money, and social obligations can all combine to leave us feeling depressed and anxious during the winter festivities. In fact, several national surveys have shown that there is a trend of increased stress and worry, starting around October and continuing on until right after the New Year.
One survey showed that 38 percent of people felt their stress levels sharply increase during the holiday season. The top stressors included: Lack of time and money; increasing commercialism of the holidays; pressures to give gifts; and family gatherings.
Furthermore, 56 percent of those surveyed felt increasingly worried about money during the holidays. Interestingly more than half of those who took the survey reported that their workplace was the greatest source of their stress, while slightly less than 30 percent said that home held the most stress in their lives.
Because holiday stress and worry is so common, it shouldn’t be surprising if you find yourself somewhat down at this time of year. Below are some simple tips that you can use to help keep the holiday blues at bay.
1. Set aside time for your self-care
In all the hectic hustle and bustle of this time of year, it can be easy to not pay attention to your own needs. This is a great time to take the same advice you probably give your patients – create a quick daily routine that can energize you to get ready to start the day. A simple, 15-minute yoga or tai chi flow can get you revved up to tackle a day full of shopping or prepping the holiday feast.
Likewise, a short meditation can help soothe your nerves if it has been a difficult day of dealing with relatives. This could also be a great time of the year to give yourself the gift of an acupuncture or massage session.
2. It’s OK to say “no”
If you feel as though you have been buried under a deluge of party invitations, family obligations and school functions for your kids, simply being able to say “no” to some of these things can do a great deal to relieve some of the holiday anxiety. You may want to participate in the festivities at some level, but there are times when you just cannot do every single thing. Learning to gracefully turn down invitations to give yourself some breathing space can do wonders to reduce your stress.
3. Don’t overindulge
One of the biggest dangers of the holidays is the ready availability of sugary sweets. It can be all too easy to overdo it on holiday cookies, candies and other dessert items.
Add in traditionally fatty meats and starches, as well as an abundance of alcohol and sugary hot drinks, and you are looking at a recipe for a potential diet disaster. Whether or not you give in to temptation, just being faced with all those goodies can be enough to raise your stress level.
There’s no reason to deny yourself entirely – just remember to take small portions and pace yourself between courses. Take a 10- minute break between meal courses and don’t overdo on the carb-heavy side dishes. If the food is available buffet style, serve yourself half the amount you normally would. Split that slice of pie or cake with somebody else, and forego that return trip to the dessert table.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when it comes to reducing anxiety, stress, and depression during the holidays is that you can control just how much – or little – you wish to participate in the festivities.
Having that ability may allow you to feel better able to manage the ups and downs that are so prevalent at this time of the year.