How to Manage Stress Around the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner, and visions of spending time with family and friends are enough to make anyone look forward to this time of year. The time off work doesn’t hurt, either.

But, for many people, the holidays can be a source of stress. They can often throw you off your normal routine, add extra events and pressure, and can even contribute to anxiety and other mental health issues. 

If you’re looking forward to the holidays but know that you typically get stressed, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are things you can do to manage your mental health this time of year. 

Let’s cover a few tips you can put into practice to keep your stress at bay this holiday season. 

Make Time for Yourself

One of the biggest stressors around the holidays is the lack of time. 

Whether you’re preparing to host a party or family get-together, going to an event, or trying to get your shopping done, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. On top of that, in many parts of the country, the days seem shorter since it gets darker earlier. 

Though you might have a full schedule, it’s more important than ever to make time for yourself. Dedicated time devoted to your well-being each day will make it easier to get through the season with less stress. 

Use that time to meditate, be mindful, exercise, or journal. Find things that reduce your stress levels and make them a part of your daily routine, especially around the holidays. 

Schedule Time to Worry

Yes, it’s okay to worry—under controlled circumstances. 

If that seems counterproductive, consider this: without scheduling time to worry, you will likely either push your concerns down or spend every moment thinking about them. 

Both options can cause problems. 

Emotions demand to be felt. If you’re worried and trying to ignore it, those concerns will eventually “bubble up” and come out, likely worse than before. Alternatively, worrying all the time will make the whole season overwhelming and unenjoyable. And this can have a negative impact on your physical and emotional health.

Choose a time far enough away from your bedtime to acknowledge the things you’re feeling stressed about. Give yourself a few minutes to focus on them, and then put them aside so you can move on to other things. 

This short, scheduled time can keep you from feeling overwhelmed, and your brain will eventually be able to let go of the stress and worry faster. 

Keep a Sleep Routine

Getting a good night’s sleep is always important. This is especially crucial this time of year. 

Try to keep your normal sleep routine and practice healthy sleep hygiene habits. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Regulating your sleep schedule will help you stay focused and healthy and can keep you from burning out. 

Set Boundaries

The holidays only come around once a year. So, it’s not uncommon for some people to want to squeeze in as much as possible. 

But, to maintain your mental health, there might be some things that require you to say “no”. If your plate is already full of activities, don’t add another one that will stress you out.

Set boundaries with family members and friends—and even with yourself! Don’t bite off more than you can chew. When you don’t set boundaries, you can enjoy the things you’re a part of rather than worrying about what’s next. 

By using these techniques to manage stress this holiday season, you can find longer periods of relaxation that will help you celebrate the right way. Keep them in mind if you start to feel overwhelmed, and you’ll quickly see that it doesn’t have to be that way.

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