When the holiday bell goes off, yearly tradition comes to play. With them comes a long list of tasks to accomplish. Whether it’s hosting family members and friends to catch up, entertaining, cleaning up, buying gifts or merely attending all the Christmas parties going on, the demands can be overwhelming. If you aren’t careful, you can invite holiday stress into your home and end up becoming more like the Scrooge than Jolly Old Saint Nicholas.
The holiday season is stressful for different reasons, and varies person to person.
For some, Christmas might remind you of a loved one you lost, plunging you into a lonely and stressful mood.
Sometimes, it’s the anxiety of the expectations you have on how your holiday should be.
If you don’t leave room for family drama, extra obligations and the stress that comes along with the financial commitments of buying Christmas gifts, you might find yourself sad and depressed, nursing your holiday stress. In this article, you’ll learn:
- Who’s affected by holiday stress
- The effects of holiday stress
- The top causes of holiday stress
- Seven tips to manage holiday stress
Who Gets Stressed During the Holidays?
There’s no doubt that everybody gets stressed out in the wintertime, especially as holidays get closer and closer. Not only do thousands upon thousands of people feel the stress of the holidays as they approach, but according to some holiday stress statistics, nearly half of them want to skip Christmas altogether.
More women than men experience an increase in stress leading up to the holidays. This is likely because women tend to take on the majority of holiday-related burdens, including shopping and planning the holiday meals. As the deadline looms on, the holidays get more and more stressful for those who are heading up the family.
Lower middle income families, typically those who make between $30,000 and $50,000, experience the most financial pressure and report high stress as a result of the holidays. High expectations and plenty of exposure to holiday media increase the risks associated with holiday anxiety.
The Effects of Holiday Stress
The physical symptoms of holiday stress are all too real:
- Inability to sleep
- An upset stomach
The pain can be tremendously debilitating, and you might not even realize that it is stress that is responsible for all the physical symptoms.
You may find yourself becoming unsatisfied with your job. You might even notice that your behavior in the workplace is changing, leading to a decline in work performance. If you are struggling at work, it might be time to take a step back and ask if holiday stress could have something to do with it.
Unfortunately, this stress can also lead to cardiovascular disease and heart attack. This is why it is so important to identify the cause of your stress and pinpoint a plan of action to treat it.
What Causes Holiday Stress?
Holiday stress cannot necessarily be boiled down to one root cause. In truth, there are generally many reasons why stress pops up during the holidays. It is usually a culmination of all these factors that leads to serious issues with increased stress.
1. There Isn’t Enough Time to do Everything
Lack of time is one of the biggest reasons people feel the effects, but lack of funds is another very real concern. People work themselves to the bone trying to earn enough money to give their family amazing presents on Christmas, but it can have a significantly negative impact on their lives.
2. You’re Pressured to Create the “Perfect” Christmas
Commercialism and hype bring a great deal of attention to the holiday, especially as the pressure to give and receive presents increases. This is especially the case with instances in which credit card debt increases and travel expenses start to pile up as people strive to give their children the perfect holiday experience. Financial concerns are amplified when commercialism takes over the season.
3. Family Visits Aren’t Always Pleasant
Bringing the family together comes with its own set of consequences. Family drama and awkward situations can bring their own sense of pressure. Of course, the opposite can be just as stressful. One major cause of depression during the holidays is loneliness. No matter the case, it is important that you consider the amount of family involvement you want in your holiday. If your family causes more stress than anything else, it may actually be beneficial to stay away during this anxious time.
4. Food Woes Lead to WeightLoss Worries
For those trying to lose weight by staying on a diet, the holidays can seem extremely stressful. Thanksgiving can be a nightmare when you are trying to live the no-carb lifestyle. It can also be distressing to be bombarded with treats, like cookies and pies as Christmas approaches. The resulting weight gain can be difficult to deal with. Here are some tips from Real Simple to eat healthy during the holidays.
5. Work Can Become Significantly More Demanding as The Weather Wears Down
Of course, the stress of work can cause havoc during the holidays. Extra hours that are inflexible can lead to many problems. Employees get stressed when they can’t get enough time off work, as well as those times when work and celebration just don’t mix. And finally, there are plenty of employees who worry that they aren’t going to make enough money to afford the holidays.
How to Manage Holiday Stress
If holiday the holiday season always seems to leave you feeling drained and down, here are seven tips to help you deal with holiday stress efficiently.
1. Plan Ahead
The reason you can’t seem to shake off holiday stress is that you fail to plan ahead of time. Scrambling at the last minute and forgetting to accomplish or buy some stuff can leave you disappointed.
To combat this, make sure you have a list that details everything that needs to be done. This will help you stay organized and stress-free.
Holidays don’t show up like hurricanes, so you have enough time to create a shopping list, a list of activities detailing when they will be done and by who, a list of menus and even people to send messages to. Don’t forget to have a list for yourself. A gift or two will put a smile on your face and melt away the stress.
2. Make a Budget
Most people hate doing budgets, but the only sure way to shade off holiday stress is by having a functional budget. One of the leading causes of the holiday stress is financial overstretch.
Think about it.
Within a span of less than two months, you’re faced with Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas shopping. And not to mention the never-ending shopping lists for food and drinks.
With all of this weighing on your wallet, it’s safe to say that Santa isn’t the only one being pressed.
Prepare your budget reasonably and stick to it. It’ll help you avoid overspending and going into debt for the sake of the holiday season.
3. Change Your Perspective in Stressful Situations
The holiday season is meant to be about being merry, having fun and getting together with your loved ones. Anything that negates that statement isn’t worth your time.
This is the perfect time to set aside differences with family members and have an extra bone for tolerance. Your annoying in-law may be in attendance or those nagging relatives that won’t let you have your peace.
Don’t let them get to your head.
Just take a chill pill and pay attention to happy moments.
Also, kick perfectionism out of the window. There’s no right way to get things done, just take it easy and be your own cheerleader along the way.
Scale down your expectations and live each day one at a time.
For some people, it’s very easy to overstretch yourself and get holiday stress on your back if you intend to please everybody but yourself. Saying no politely to avoid over scheduling and stretching yourself thin will ease you out.
What happens when you have so much on your plate that you just start pacing around in anxiety? Learn to ask for help and delegate some of the responsibilities. For instance, you could ask your guests to come with a dish or drink if you’re throwing a holiday party. Or ask some of them over to help you fix the meals to avoid running out of time.
4. Treat Yourself
If you think the holidays are about everybody else but yourself, think again.
If you don’t take good care of yourself, you might end up booking appointments with a stress doctor after the holidays. Remember to have a good laugh and play with the kids to get your feel-good hormones back.
Don’t forget to incorporate healthy habits like sleeping well and eating health. Well, as healthy as you can at least.
Let’s face it, most of treat November and December as the time to indulge more than you typically would. It’s your last hurrah before your New Year’s resolution starts, so you’re a lot less likely to turn down that piece of cake or maybe a drink a few more than you would if you were on a diet.
But if you go too far off the deep end, you could find yourself inviting holiday stress over. The key is balance. Sure, with the crazy schedule, you might find it difficult to hit the gym as often. But try to fit in thirty minutes to jog, go for a walk or do some other type of cardio. This will release endorphins, which help you handle holiday stress without spoiling everybody’s mood.
5. Face Your Anxiety and Holiday Stress
Sometimes holiday stress isn’t as a result of having too much to do, but it’s more about your inner emotions and personal struggles during the holidays. When everyone around you is filled with joy and good vibes because Christmas is around the corner, you might feel a bit awkward admitting that the holiday is nothing but pain to you.
But the truth is you don’t have to hide your feelings. It will only worsen the holiday stress and could lead you to depression.
The best way to feel better is to deal with it head-on.
If you feel lonely, it’s okay to go out and socialize with people throughout your community.
You could also participate in volunteer activities and help others out. This will give you a chance to spread some cheer and make new friends instead of mourning alone in your home.
The holiday season is full of emotions and ignoring them won’t make your life any easier.
Similarly, if you avoid the holidays because they’re filled with family drama and uncomfortable run-ins with negative people, the best thing you can do is confront the situation as soon as it happens.
This will let the dust settle instead of bottling up grievances that’ll spoil your entire Christmas.
6. Take Some Time for Yourself
You need to take some time to be alone and breathe.
There’s a reason deep breathing is one of the most commonly used stress management techniques—it works.
Taking time to step back, take deep breaths and calm your mind will get you back on track when everything seems to get out of hand.
This is the perfect time to listen to your favorite music playlist, go for a massage, take a walk in the park, watch your favorite movie or just take a walk and listen to the bird’s chirp. Sometimes, it’s the small things that turn the switch on the holiday stress button.
It can also help to unplug and take some time away from technology.
Find a way to avoid your phone calls, email alerts, TV noises and all other artificial sounds.
Being surrounded by a barrage of noise and notifications can keep you in a perpetual state of alertness, which makes it nearly impossible to relax. So needless to say, it can be pretty big a stress inducer, especially during the holidays.
Instead, have some “me” time, meditate and balance yourself out. There’s an unexplainable peace that comes with silence.
7. Be Grateful
Here is what being thankful does to you:
- Helps you stay positive
- Shrinks your mountains to molehills
- Enables you to see opportunities where everybody sees a problem
It’s amazing how much you can turn your holiday around just by remembering to be thankful for everyone and everything around you. Always keep in mind that not everyone gets the chance to celebrate the holidays. You might be surprised by how much stressful situations change when you start saying thank you, instead of complaining.
Say Goodbye to Holiday Stress
Holidays are seasonal and they’re designed to be the perfect break from work-related stress and your daily routine. You can restore that magic by taking it easy and enjoying all the little activities that come with it.
If you follow the seven tips above, you can skip the holiday stress and enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah or any other celebration you have planned!