It is officially the holiday season! While December might be thought of as the most wonderful time of the year, with its seasonal décor, multiple feasts full of delicious food, handing out gifts and spending lots of extra time enjoying family and friends, it is also easily one of the most stressful times year. For many, instead of feeling relaxed and recharged over the Holidays, we tend to feel completely overwhelmed and drained.
Stress wreaks havoc on the body physically, mentally, emotionally and behaviorally and affects each person differently. It could present itself with constant worry, nightmares, impaired judgment, loss of confidence, indecisiveness or constant negative feelings. You may notice a loss in appetite, reduced sex drive, insomnia, recklessness, depression or alienating yourself from others. Physically, you could experience headaches, skin irritations, muscular fatigue, or getting infections frequently.
Regardless of the stress symptoms you typically experience, you don’t have to allow stress to go unchecked. The easiest ways to avoid massive amounts of stress this holiday season is avoiding it. Start by taking especially good care of yourself – stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and eat balanced meals. Figure out what you can control and allow yourself to let go of the rest. Have an invitation to a party that you don’t really want to attend? Don’t go. It’s especially easy to decline a party invite at this time by simply saying you have another engagement – even if that other engagement is curling up on the couch with a glass of red and the latest episode of Criminal Minds.
By forcing yourself into situations that you don’t need to be, nor want to be in, you are just adding extra stress and anxiety into your life. Accept help from those around you. We are taught throughout our lives about how important independence is. While it is crucial to know how to take care of yourself, it’s not a bad thing to let those around you help carry the burden. Going through something? Find a friend or loved one that you trust and unload a little. Hosting this year’s go-to soiree? Accept someone’s offer to bring a dish or assist with clean-up. Overwhelmed by the amount of gift-shopping and wrapping still left to be done? Create a list and delegate tasks to other family members and your significant other. Being that it is the season of giving, don’t feel the need to take on everything on your own. Much of the worry we experience over the holidays and throughout the year is self-induced. Plan for what you can but prepare yourself in advance to ride with the flow. Know your stress triggers and figure out what makes them dissipate – whether it’s snuggling a puppy, taking 10 minutes to meditate, heading to the gym, finding something to laugh about or whatever else works for you.
By allowing yourself to be easy when something unexpected comes up – and something always does – you will find that the change in plans is not really that big of a deal. Overthinking our stressors is the fastest way to overwhelm ourselves and create unnecessary turmoil. Knowing yourself, taking care of your own needs and realizing that you don’t have to handle everything on your own is the best way to make sure that you will be filled with light and relaxation over the holidays.