When the holiday season rolls around the corner, it can be a very exciting and joyful time. However, despite the positive feelings, negative ones such as stress and feelings of being overwhelmed are experienced as well. Many people experience stress during the holiday season for a variety of reasons but not limited to:
1. Having to see family members that you do not have the best relationship with
2. Dealing with the pressure of having to buy gifts for relatives, children, friends, etc
3. Being reminded of loved ones that are no longer here to celebrate with
4. Decorating your house to be perfect in the eyes of those who are around you
5. Trying to accomplish your end of the year goals, whether they are personal or professional
6. Dealing with a romantic relationship and the thoughts and feelings of “where is this going” and commitment related discussions
In addition, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can influence how you feel around this time of year. SAD is a form of depression that comes from seasonal weather changes. Most often, you can expect to experience dips in your mood beginning in the fall months and continuing throughout the winter. SAD can be caused by a disruption in your circadian rhythm, meaning the reduction of sunlight can disrupt your internal clock. Additionally, this reduced sunlight can decrease serotonin levels making you more prone to feelings of depression. Finally, the change in the seasons can affect your balance of melatonin, which in turn will affect your mood and sleep patterns. If you are already struggling with SAD, the stress that comes from dealing with the holiday season can be too much for someone to deal with.
So, what can you do to manage this stress during the holiday season and winter months? Here are some tips that may be useful in reducing holiday stress:
1. Allow yourself breaks if you are feeling overwhelmed and buried under the pressure
2. Designate time to be alone and meditate
3. Develop a routine that you can stick to
4. Make sure you get fresh air, even if just to walk to the mailbox
5. Find the strength to set boundaries with people and conversations that you are uncomfortable with
6. Set a budget for how much you want to spend on gifts
7. Say “no” to anything that you do not feel you can mentally or physically handle
8. Set time to read a book or journal everyday
9. Enjoy a nice bath before bed
10. Set time to sit under a comfortable blanket and watch a funny TV show or movie
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