The holidays can be a joyous time of year, but they can also be stressful and challenging. It’s easy to get burned out searching for the right gifts. For people who live alone, the holidays can be a time of loneliness. Here are some strategies to help you enjoy the holidays while minimizing holiday depression and stress.
Don’t Overextend Yourself
Everyone has limits beyond which they start to get tired and stressed out. During the holidays, it’s typical to feel pulled in many directions. People often put all kinds of pressure on you to attend all kinds of events. You probably put a certain amount of pressure on yourself. Don’t feel obligated to agree to every request or invitation. In some cases, it’s better to take some time for yourself and skip a holiday party or decline a request for help.
Avoid Overindulging in Food or Alcohol
Keep in mind that there’s a close relationship between physical and mental well-being. Overeating and overindulging in alcohol, both easy to do during the holidays, can contribute to lost sleep, mood swings and low energy. These, in turn, make it even harder to cope with the ordinary pressures of the holidays and everyday life. You don’t have to avoid holiday foods, parties and a few extra cocktails or glasses of wine or Champagne. However, don’t let yourself get carried away.
Reach Out to Others if You Feel Lonely
While some people get stressed out from too much socializing and partying around the holidays, others have the opposite problem. If you don’t have much family (or you live far away from loved ones), don’t let yourself get isolated during this season. There are always actions you can take to connect with others. Make an effort to connect with people on the phone or online if they live far away. Reach out to your community. If you have nowhere to go on holidays, volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen. Many places also have community celebrations for people without close ties.
Scale Down Holiday Celebrations
Many people are embracing a simpler lifestyle. Minimalism can take many forms, from smaller homes to decluttering. One way to simplify your life is to scale down holiday celebrations. This works best if others in your family support this idea but you can make the decision unilaterally as well. You might, for example, resolve to limit gift giving to a few small items and cut back on decorations. Scaling down your celebrations takes pressure off everyone. If you want to do this, don’t let anyone guilt trip you into changing your mind. One tactic is to announce that if anyone buys you an expensive gift you’ll sell it and donate the money to charity.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise is a healthy habit that helps your mind as well as your body. It keeps you centered and decreases the chances of injuries as you scurry around from one activity to the next. Any type of exercise that you’re able to stick with is beneficial. Take a morning jog or bike ride. Go to the gym. Make use of any exercise equipment you have at home. If you want to reduce stress while getting a good workout, yoga is always a good choice.
Focus on Changing Negative Patterns
It’s easy to continue old patterns when you spend time with family and long-time friends. This can be positive, of course, if you get along with people and reminisce about old times. However, it can also bring up old painful memories and negative patterns. If you find yourself getting into familiar conflicts that date back many years or even decades, stop yourself. Remember that you’re not the same person you were in the past so you’re not obligated to react the same way you did then. It’s best to remind yourself of these facts before you spend time with the people who evoke these reactions.
Take Time for Personal Rituals
One reason that the holidays can be so stressful is that people let themselves get pulled in all directions and don’t take enough time to recharge and nurture themselves. You probably have your own particular rituals to relax and de-stress. This might include listening to music, taking a walk, having coffee with a friend, or watching your favorite TV shows. People are usually busier than usual during the holidays. It’s still important, though, to make sure you take time for yourself.
The holidays can bring challenges as well as joy. Take a look at your patterns and identify the specific activities, people or dates that trigger any unpleasant emotions. Look for ways to reduce the pressure, even if it means opting out of certain activities. You’re allowed to celebrate the holiday in any way you choose. Do so in a way that maximizes your own well being. This, in turn, makes you better company and helps you contribute more to others’ happiness.