Yes, sometimes we all feel stress in our daily lives, however the holidays have a well-deserved reputation for bringing their own unique flavor of psychological challenges along with the “comfort and joy” we hear so much about. Typical holiday issues may include our expectations around the holidays, the pressure of gift-giving, dealing with financial stress, and maybe even having difficult family conversations. This stress can take a toll on our bodies and can potentially have some long-term consequences – and research has shown that holidays can affect our health. Stress can make us more susceptible to illnesses or colds as our immune system can be compromised when we are stressed. Researchers have also shown cardiac mortality to increase during Christmas and during the holiday season!
It can be so easy to get caught up in the hype of the holidays (i.e., overspend, over-indulge, over-do, etc.) that we may forget about what truly matters most to us during the holidays, which is those authentic connections we have with our friends and family. It is important for us to become aware of what is important to us during the holiday season and what makes us happy.
What are some things that we can do to help minimize stress this year to make it a holiday season instead of a holidaze?
- Practice mindfulness—Mindfulness is an evidence-based practice that helps individuals learn how to return to the here and now (i.e., the present moment) with a sense of openness, kindness, curiosity, and compassion. Ways we can practice mindfulness is through mindful walking, breathing and/or reflection
- Schedule time for self-care—Taking care of ourselves will help us ensure we are making time to meet our needs for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Some self-care activities may include trying something new, exercising, calling a friend, eating healthily, or taking a hot bath, etc.
- Remember what is important to us—commercialism can tempt us spend more on gifts or do more during the holiday season
- Create a holiday “to-do” list—making a list can help us identify and focus on the highest priority and this can help reduce our chances of forgetting.
- Others have also offered tips and tricks to help us manage holiday stress.
Let’s take time this holiday season to slow down, take care of ourselves and do things that bring us joy!