During the holidays, stress and anxiety are just as common as gift-giving and twinkly lights. A recent survey found that 88 percent of Americans felt the holiday season was not “the most wonderful time of the year,” but the most stressful.1 In fact, research over time shows that there is an uptick in stress-related cardiac events during the holiday season, with more people dying from heart attacks between December 25th and January 1st than at any other time of the year.2
Where does all this stress come from? And what can you do to prevent it? Read on to find out the top eight mental health tips for the holidays.
Stress, Anxiety and the Holidays
From money worries to family tension, there are many reasons why people stress during the holidays. Even children are not immune to holiday stress; changes in routine, excess sugar, and the constant hustle and bustle can be overwhelming.
The top holiday stressors include:
- High expectations
- Tension with family members
- Routine disruption
- Travel stress
- Constant busyness
How to Prevent Holiday Stress
While we all deal with stress and worry from time to time, our triggers tend to be personal. Maybe you’re dreading a certain family member who always pummels you with questions. Maybe you always end up under a pile of debt come January. Maybe your idea of torture is waiting in an endless line of cars to wait in yet another endless line at Macy’s. Knowing what sets you off during the holidays is key to preventing the stress attached to them.
Follow the following eight tips for more ideas on how to keep your stress levels in check.
1. Plan Ahead
From baking to shopping to decorating to celebrating, the holidays are busy. If you don’t have a plan, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed until January rolls around. Make use of calendars and lists to stay on top of all the details so they don’t pile up in your head.
Make a plan for the following ahead of time:
- Gifts: Buy ahead and consider which gifts you can order online to avoid mall crowds.
- Menus: What will you serve for family dinners or make for potlucks/parties you’re attending?
- Grocery runs: Who will do them and on what days? This can help you avoid any last-minute scrambles.
- Cleaning: Don’t get stuck cleaning up everyone’s messes. Devise a schedule of helpers to keep the house tidy and chaos-free.
2. Stick to a Budget
Before you start filling your cart with gifts for the whole family, decide how much you can afford to spend after paying your usual expenses. Don’t forget to factor in all the money you’ll spend on food and drinks. If your budget is slim this year, feel free to get creative. Homemade gifts or thrifted gifts are just as thoughtful. And other family members may be relieved if you suggest a gift exchange in lieu of buying something for everyone. Set a budget and don’t be tempted to stray.
3. Set Boundaries & Learn to Say No
One effective way to prevent holiday stress is to establish some boundaries around your stressors. If you often do things you don’t want to do out of obligation to other family members, give yourself permission this year to say no. Limit the time you spend with problematic family members, or don’t spend time with them at all. Set a boundary around how much you want to spend, who you want to see, and what you want to do in the weeks before the big events. It’s your holiday season too and it’s ok to visualize and plan for the kind of season you want to have.
4. Keep Your Healthy Habits
It’s common to overindulge during the holidays. From too many cookies to too many late nights, it’s easy to let the holidays feel like a free-for-all. But too much sugar, too little sleep, and other unhealthy habits eventually catch up with you and send your stress levels through the roof.
Prioritize your health during the holidays by:
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Staying hydrated
- Being physically active
- Setting limits on how much alcohol and how many sweets you have
- Practicing deep breathing or other mindfulness exercises when you feel stressed
5. Take a Breather When Necessary
The busyness of the holidays can take a toll on you if you never take a time-out for yourself. This is especially true if you’re the kind of person who loves to shower others with holiday joy but never give back to yourself. From taking a walk while listening to your favorite podcast to booking a massage, whatever you consider to be “me time” should be held sacred during the busy holiday season.
6. Agree to Disagree with Family Members
From old family riffs to new political differences, there is bound to be some tension when multiple families come together in one place. This year, try your best to avoid the drama where you can. Set a boundary about what you want to let in and walk away from situations (or people) who don’t respect the boundaries you’ve put in place. And try to be mindful that everyone is dealing with their own holiday stressors. If someone rubs you the wrong way, try not to take it personally.
7. Acknowledge & Talk Through Your Feelings
You don’t have to battle holiday stress alone. Turn to your spouse, sibling, trusted friend, or maybe even your therapist to talk through difficult feelings before they reach their boiling point. Sometimes, just verbalizing what’s bothering you to another person can help clarify the situation and help you create distance from the emotions involved.
8. Try Homeopathic Anxiety Medication
Homeopathic anxiety medication like Brillia offers a gentle and impactful route to reducing stress and anxiety without harsh, synthetic chemicals or harmful side effects. Unlike prescription drugs for anxiety, Brillia does not require a prescription or official diagnosis and you will not experience any harmful side effects like nausea, dry mouth, or nausea while adjusting to the medication. Containing antibodies to the S100B protein, a key regulator of many different intracellular and extracellular brain processes, Brillia stops symptoms of anxiety, and stress at the very source of symptoms without affecting any other systems in the body or masking your personality in any way. Combine the medication with the healthy lifestyle habits outlined in our 5-Pillar methodology, which include proper nutrition, adequate sleep, controlled screen time, and mindfulness, and you’ve got a powerful antidote to holiday stress that will last all year long.
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