The holidays are here, and so is the stress that accompanies them. Today, stress is high in general, so, adding all the seasonal shopping, parties, and family festivities to the mix kicks that stress into high gear. In the United States 3 in 5 say they feel their mental health is impacted negatively during the holiday season.
Stress and mental health are connected and taking steps to protect your wellbeing can help curb any negative feelings the holiday season brings up.
The holiday blues are real and take a lot of shapes, but there are real things we can do to cope, and it doesn’t involve eggnog.
The stressor: finances around the holidays.
Why it causes stress: The financial impact of holiday gift-giving is cited as the major source of stress for people around this time of year. It’s hard enough that inflation is driving up costs on everyday items so when you add gift-giving to the equation, it’s stressful.
What you can do: Talk with friends and family about your concerns if your financial situation has changed. Or rather than get gifts for all your friends and family consider embracing a “Secret Santa” tradition to lower costs (and the number of gifts to get). You can also create a gift budget or make some gifts yourself. Your presence is a present, time with loved ones is shown to make us happier than more stuff anyway.
The stressor: unreasonable expectations.
Why it causes stress: It may be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but that kind of pressure can result in unrealistic expectations. It’s easy to overbook when there’s so much to do. But you don’t have to do everything for everyone and attend every event.
What you can do: One of our Virgin Pulse Health Coaches says asking for help, delegating, or doing less can be a key to maintaining balance. Look, there’s no such thing as the perfect holiday gathering. So, if something goes wrong think of it as an opportunity to make a memory or a great family story. Go easy on yourself and how you “should feel” at this time of the year. Being compassionate with ourselves can help us be more compassionate with others—a perfect piece of advice when dealing with challenging family members.
The stressor: unable to focus on wellbeing.
Why it causes stress: The holidays are busy with a million things to do, and a million places to go. When you’re worrying about everyone else this time of year, chances are you don’t have enough time to devote to yourself.
What you can do: However, making sure to maintain healthy habits is even more important for managing stress. Exercise regularly or just bundle up and take a walk outside when that family gathering gets overwhelming. Practice mindfulness a little bit every day, including focusing on what really matters to you this time of year.