The holidays can be a joyful time,
offering a chance to reconnect with friends and family. But they can also be
stressful. You may feel pressure to buy and give gifts. Maybe you are worried
about money. The holidays can also be hectic. There never seems to be enough
time to get things done.
Think about the kinds of events that
trigger stress for you during the holidays. Then you can focus on one or two
things you can do that will help the most to reduce stress.
Here are some
Preparing for the holidays
Know your spending limit. Lack of money is one of the biggest causes of stress during the holiday
season. This year, set a budget, and don't spend more than you've planned. It's
okay to tell your child that a certain toy costs too much. Don't buy gifts that
you'll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
Give something personal. You can show love and caring with any
gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn't have to cost a lot. Or use
words instead of an expensive gift to let people know how important they are to
you. Make a phone call or write a note and share your feelings.
Get organized. Make lists or use an
appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend.
Share the tasks. You don't have to do
everything yourself. Share your "to do" list with others. Spend time with
friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and
preparing the holiday meal.
Learn to say no.
It's okay to say "no" to events that aren't important to you. This will give
you more time to say "yes" to events that you do want to
Be realistic. Try not to put
pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus
instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you. And remember that
just because it's a holiday, family problems don't go away. If you have a hard
time being around your relatives, it's okay to set limits on your time at
events and visits.
During the holidays
may not be able to avoid stressful situations during the holidays. But you can
plan to respond to them in a healthy way.
Take breaks from group activities. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Spend a little
time by yourself if you can. Meditate, or do some relaxation breathing. Go for
a short walk.
Keep a regular sleep, meal, and exercise schedule. Limit your alcohol. Taking care of yourself will help
you deal with stressful situations during the holidays.
Get support if you need it. Holidays can sometimes trigger
depression. They can be especially hard if you are already dealing with the
death of a loved one or the breakup of a relationship. You may feel embarrassed
to ask for help, or you may think that you'll get over "the blues" on your own.
But most people need treatment to get better. Talk with your doctor about
counseling and medicine for depression.
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (2006). Holiday stress. Study conducted for the American Psychological Association. Washington, DC: Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. Available online: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/holiday-stress.pdf.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerKathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerSteven Locke, MD - Psychiatry
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.