Breathing Space December 2022

by Dan Comer

4 Tips to Help with Holiday Stress
The holidays can bring joy, but it’s not uncommon to experience stress, depression, and anxiety as well. The demands of the season—shopping and running errands while battling crowds, back-to-back holiday parties and social obligations, houseguests and relatives—are all potential stressors. Alongside this, feelings of loneliness and isolation are also common around the holidays.
While you may often feel pressure to keep spirits up and a smile on your face during the holidays, it’s okay to experience a range of emotions during the season. And with a few helpful tips, you can be more prepared to tackle what’s in store. I was going to share 13 tips but decided to be realistic and do less!

1. Keep Your Healthy Habits
Maintaining healthy habits during the holiday season will be one of your best defenses against stress. This means getting enough sleep, eating well—yes, even at holiday parties—and staying physically active. It also means maintaining what you can of your daily routine, like workouts, book club, or personal self-care time.

2. Be Realistic
The holiday season can be long and full of commitments, real or imagined. To help manage stress, make a list of what you expect from yourself, what others expect from you and your responsibilities for the holidays. You may want to place them on a calendar to get a feel for what the coming months will look like. Get comfortable with the idea that you don’t have to do everything and everything doesn’t have to be perfect. When you’re looking at your calendar or to-do list, be fair to yourself. Decide what’s most important to you or where you most want to go, and allow yourself to say no to other demands on your time.

3. Reach Out
If you need more support or assistance, either emotional or physical help with specific holiday tasks, ask your friends or family. For extra hands at a volunteer event or someone to bring the dessert to a potluck, reach out to one or more specifically chosen people—you’re more likely to get a response that way than from a mass email.

4. Take a Walk
A winter walk is not only an easy source of exercise when your schedule seems packed—sunlight offers a feel-good burst of serotonin and can help fight seasonal affective disorder. Furthermore, the rhythm and repetition of walking has a tranquilizing effect, decreasing anxiety and improving sleep.

Adapted from: Northwestern Medicine. (n.d.). 6 Tips to help with holiday stress: Managing stress and depression around the holidays.