The holidays are supposed to be a happy time, but even the most enthusiastic holiday aficionado can become overwhelmed with too many seasonal activities and expectations. Holiday spending, overbooked schedules, healthy eating concerns and the pressure of choosing just the right gift can weigh heavily on the brain during what’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. Add in loneliness, substance use disorders or other additional mental health concerns, and you might not be feeling the holiday spirit this season. Are you wondering how to manage holiday stress this season?
You’re not alone. One recent survey found that 18% of respondents said the holidays were “very stressful” and 44% called them “very stressful.” The greatest source of stress? Money issues. But healthy eating, family drama and working in the retail sector also contributed to higher stress levels over the holidays.
Healthy365 feels your holiday pain. As a community health improvement initiative that works to improve the wellbeing of Hancock County residents and families, we want to boost your holiday spirit with some self-care tips. While it’s easy to focus on what you need to do for everyone around you during the holidays, you can’t take care of others unless you’re taking care of yourself first!
Manage your time and don’t try to do too much
Your neighborhood cookie exchange is set for a Saturday, but your 10-year-old just came home and announced that it’s the same day as her Brownie holiday party. Then your spouse points out that the company party is later that evening, and your in-laws called and told you they are holding a special birthday party for all the December birthdays in the family, and it too falls on that Saturday. How are you going to manage holiday stress?
Spoiler – You can’t. No matter how strong and independent you strive to be, you’re going to need some help to make this all happen. Call on another Brownie mother to take your daughter to the party. Ask your in-laws to schedule the combined birthday party earlier in the day so you and your spouse can attend the company party in the evening. Touch base with the neighborhood cookie exchange organizer to find out if you can drop off your cookies ahead of time and pick up your assortment on Sunday. Or wish them well and tell them you’re going to have to skip the event this year.
Set boundaries to reduce holiday stress.
If you’re the go-to person in your family, you’ve probably trained them to see you as the person who can do it all. It’s time to adjust that attitude. Saying “no” is a powerful form of self-care. Is an activity adding to your holiday joy or draining your seasonal soul? You deserve a happy holiday, and it something is robbing you of that happiness, let it go. Practice saying no – it’s a lot easier once you get the hang of it. Are you already worrying about what to buy your nephews, who hand you a wish list on Thanksgiving and expect you to make it all come true? Call their parents now and tell them you’re going to be giving an experience instead, like an Indianapolis Zoo membership. You don’t have to be everything for everybody. Manage that holiday stress.
Practice relaxation and set aside time for yourself.
While you’re taking care of others this holiday season, who is taking care of you? Remember what the flight attendant tells you to do in case of an emergency? Put on your own oxygen mask first, and then help others put on theirs. You must take care of yourself first, or you won’t be able to care for others. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive, although we’re not averse to taking some of the holiday budget and treating yourself to a professional massage. But a quiet walk in the woods (with your phone set to “silent”) can help you rediscover your serenity. Are you hoping to burn off some calories along with your holiday stress? Consider a Hancock Wellness Center membership to help you find fitness activities you enjoy.
There’s some truth to the adage that you make a living by what you get, and you make a life by what you give. Giving time can have powerful reverberations in the community, whether you’re signing up for a single volunteer opportunity or committing to regular shifts as a Hancock Regional Hospital volunteer. You can find more local volunteer opportunities here.
Manage holiday stress with therapy.
If life seems overwhelming, you may want to talk to someone who is trained to help. Fortunately, our Healthy365 Support Navigators are ready with sympathetic ears and access to local resources for your specific needs. If you’re already committed to regular therapy sessions, resist taking a holiday break. The holidays can add another layer of stress and pressure to your life, and you owe it to yourself to continue the care that can make a difference during trying times. If you’re seeking mental health help for the holidays – or throughout the year – contact the Healthy365 Connection Center. We serve residents of Greenfield, New Palestine, Cumberland, Fortville, McCordsville, Wilkinson, Shirley and Spring Lake.
A happy holiday starts with taking care of yourself. With these helpful tips, you can prepare yourself for a holiday you’ll look back on with happiness for years to come.