Did you know that holiday stress is a thing? The holiday season which, according to songs and movies, is supposed to bring cheer actually brings the total opposite to a large group of people. Holiday stress is a phenomenon that’s shockingly common.
It’s the best time and worst time for many people. You receive a lot of invitations, gifts, and joy but it can also be easily canceled out by the dizzying demands that come with the year-end. Luckily, we’ve hacked the holiday season and decoded how to Do Life Right and get through it stress-free.
What causes holiday stress anyway?
There are many reasons that people experience an increase in stress and anxiety over the holiday season. For one, it puts a deep hole in your pocket. Even the most balanced budget can take a serious hit from the cost of gifts, food, travel, and a seasonal increase in utility bills. Financial stress is not fun. It’s a real issue and a valid concern to worry about.
Aside from the stress from extra holiday spending, it’s common to experience different levels of social anxiety from big crowds and increased social obligations. Sure, it doesn’t seem like too much of a hassle to get through one harmless company Christmas party. But when you bundle that up with every club gathering, cocktail party, school play, and get together – it can really drain your social battery. As a bonus, you can also throw in jam packed malls and clogged roads and highways. Basically, anyone whose even mildly introverted will be facing his or her worst nightmare.
Finally, the greatest cause of stress during the holiday season is… extra work. You heard that right. It’s ironic because “holiday” supposedly means you get the day off. That’s not the case during Christmas and New Year’s. Travel usually takes place around this time, so apart from everything you’re already working on, you have the added responsibility of preparing for out-of-town guests. No matter how dearly you love your visitors, you have to admit it takes a lot of energy to prepare for them.
How do you spot holiday stress?
Holiday stress is no different from stress caused by personal problems, juggling too many tasks, and other factors. Listen to your body and take note of the tell-tale signs it shows whenever you’re stressed for any reason. Some of the most common stress responses to look out for are back, joint and muscle pain, exhaustion, elevated blood pressure, headaches, moodiness, trouble sleeping, and weight gain. When any of these rear its ugly head, it’s time to do something about it.
How do you avoid holiday stress?
As the hectic holidays are upon us, there are steps we can take to minimize stress. These tiny hacks go a long way in making sure that you make the most of the holiday season. Nothing’s worse than feeling like you need a holiday after the holidays! The best part is that these tips cost nothing and can be done by anyone.
1. Give gifts money can’t buy
All it takes is some creativity and you can avoid traffic, crowded malls, and spending on generic gifts. 4 out of 5 people say they would prefer a photo album filled with memories rather than a store-bought gift. Put yourself into your friend or family member’s shoes. What would you want to receive that’s unique, memorable, and personal? Usually, it doesn’t cost much if anything at all.
2. Do holiday things off-season
December is the one month that everyone tries to cram everything into. Don’t compete. Save yourself from stress by scheduling your holiday festivities in mid-January. By then, people would have recovered from the holiday hotbed of social activities and will be ready to party once again.
3. Check and balance your spending
Exercise some discipline when it comes to shopping, whether online or in person. It takes four months for an average person to pay off holiday bills. Be smart and be armed with a strategy. Set a hard limit for how much you can spend on gifts per person. Put cash in envelopes with their name on them if you have to, and once the envelope is empty, you’re done.
4. Treat ‘yo self
Reward yourself for all your hard work gift shopping and party planning. I mean, it might not be “real work” but it sure feels like it sometimes! Give yourself a pat on the back. Better yet, treat yourself to a gift too like a piece of your favorite chocolate or a new pair of flip flops to slip on after that long day at the mall. During the holidays, don’t get tempted to skip on self-care either. Exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. Spare yourself from stress-induced high blood pressure and lower back pain.
5. Stay in
Sometimes, you just gotta skip the socials and unwind. Put on your comfy pajamas, your favorite pair of flip flops and just chill. There’s no point in forcing yourself to attend every single event if the weeks that follow leave you feeling like the walking dead. Retreat and rest when you need it. Your friends will understand.
Holiday stress might be common but it doesn’t mean you have to suck it up and deal with it. With a few tiny hacks, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. While juggling your seasonal responsibilities, don’t forget to relax and unwind to fully enjoy the season.
A little extra effort to give yourself some TLC (instead of just focusing on everyone else!), will help you Do Life Right for the holidays. Doing Life Right means doing right by yourself. Sometimes, that means grabbing a pair of flip flops instead of dress shoes and hitting the couch. We recommend leaving those flip flops by the door to constantly remind yourself that sometimes you need to just decline that invite and stay home to rest. Now that’s the best Christmas gift you can give – to yourself.
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