Ways to Cut Holiday Stress so You Can Savor the Season


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Is it really the most wonderful time of the year like the song claims, or does holiday stress overwhelm you? Do Christmas carols, cookies and gift wrap make you anxious? The holidays are supposed to be fun and joyful. However, many people are actually quite stressed during the holiday season. If feelings of anxiety and guilt start tingeing your outlook around November 1, you’re not alone. Joy, inspiration and togetherness might be the goals of the season, but by the time November 1st rolls around, many people start feeling mounting pressure. In a recent study of more than 2000 Americans, 77 percent of respondents feel stressed out during the holiday season and find it hard to relax. In a bit, we’ll get to some holiday stress tips, but first lets take a look at why we feel so much stress during the holidays.

Sources of Holiday Stress

In many households, annual traditions include sending dozens of holiday cards, making cookies by the score, shopping for gifts, endless rounds of wrapping and shipping gifts, attending parties and perhaps even throwing a party or two.

The Pressure to be “Perfect”

We put pressure on ourselves to plan the perfect holiday parties and buy the perfect gifts. In fact, in the survey mentioned above, Sixty-seven percent of those who responded say they try to create the “perfect” holiday, which leads to incredible stress. 

Doing Too Much

The endless parties can actually be stressful for many people. Both planning and attending get-togethers can cause anxiety and worry. Many people over-commit themselves during the holidays. More than 47 percent of those surveyed say they take on too much during the holiday season. 

Spending Too Much

An overabundance of gift-giving leads many people to excess during the holidays. The temptation to overspend can cause lasting stress that lingers long after the holidays.  

Is it any wonder that holiday stress is rampant?

Managing Holiday Stress

Fortunately, you can see stress coming from a mile away in this season. This gives you the opportunity to prepare yourself to cope. 

Actively managing stress can help you get more enjoyment from the season. Here are some holiday stress tips to help you cope with whatever the season brings.

Make Considered Choices

It’s tempting to say “yes” to every invitation and event that pops up. Plus, you may have a tendency to participate in certain activities simply because it’s what you’ve always done.

However, if you notice that stress and the holidays are inextricably intertwined for you, then it may be time to start saying no.

Think about your family’s traditions. Which ones are really important to you? Are some of them outdated or not as fun and meaningful as they once were? It may be that it’s time to let some of those traditions go or to make new, simpler traditions that are more in keeping with your family today.

When it comes to accepting invitations, weigh each one. Which gatherings are the ones that you genuinely enjoy? Are there certain parties that you dread? Perhaps one of the best methods for managing holiday stress is to be selective about which invitations you accept.

Eat Mindfully

Your holiday stress may be food-centered. At holiday gatherings, you’ll encounter mountains of delectable foods, many of which appear only during this season. If you’ve been working hard at maintaining a healthier diet this year, you may be stressed about maintaining your lifestyle over the holidays. 

Mindful eating can help you enjoy all of the deliciousness that the holidays bring — without the guilt! Mindful eating just means paying attention to what you are eating. Here are a few easy tips that can help you eat mindfully this year. 

  • Before going to a party, eat a healthy mixed green salad at home. You’ll already be nearly full when you arrive at the event, so you’re less likely to overeat. 
  • Give yourself permission to sample desserts and other wonderful holiday dishes without guilt. No food is inherently good or bad. It is only food. It is your perception of it that makes it “good” or “bad.” It’s fine to eat small amounts of foods that you love. 
  • Use a little moderation. Focus on how much better you feel when you indulge a little but don’t go overboard. This will help you feel good about what you eat and avoid the shame of overeating. 

Eating mindfully will help you enjoy the foods that you do eat. 

Change Your Perspective on Togetherness

The holidays may bring you into contact with family and friends that you see only once a year. Some of these reunions are joyous, but you may be dreading some gatherings. In some families, things can go well for only a short time before the arguments break out. 

Reflect on previous holiday gatherings. How long did it take before things turned sour? It might be wise to set a schedule that has you exiting the party at about the time it stops being fun.

Get A Handle on Holiday Stress

Do the holidays have to be the most stressful season? I don’t believe so. You have plenty of control over how you celebrate, and if you use these holiday stress tips, this could be a happy time for you and your family.

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