Putting the Joy Back in the Holiday Season
| 2016 Q4 | story by Aynsley Anderson Sosinski
Stress is often a part of our daily lives. For many, the holidays add an extra helping.
A survey conducted by the American Psychological Association found that close to 40 percent of respondents reported increased stress levels during the holiday season. The leading causes of stress included lack of time and money; exposure to too much commercialism or hype; pressure of gifts—giving or getting; family gatherings; staying on a diet; and increased credit card debt.
Here are 12 tips to help you find more enjoyment in the holiday season and relieve holiday-related stress. For more information on coping with holiday stress, visit apa.org or lmh.org/wellness/health-library/.
12 Tips To Reduce Holiday Stress
1. Make a list, and check it twice. Create a realistic list of what you need to get done before the holidays and a time line for completion. Pace yourself. Checking off items as completed can give you a sense of accomplishing your goals.
2. Make a budget in advance for what you can afford to spend, and stick to it. Avoid using credit cards and layaway plans, if possible. Overspending at the holidays can prolong financial stress well into the New Year.
3. Make the “estimates.” Underestimate how much you can do in one day. Overestimate how long it will take to do it. Use any time left over for personal relaxation.
4. Learn to ask for help. This may be as hard for some as learning to say “no.” Sharing the load allows others to be involved and feel part of things.
5. Instead of buying a gift for someone, give the gift of your time. Make a voucher for a homemade dinner and an evening to share it. Give your older neighbor a certificate for a few hours of yard work help. Take a friend to lunch.
6. Allow some things to slide. You can’t do what you normally do and add in the holiday stuff. Think about what you can put aside for a few days or weeks, and let that happen.
7. Don’t put your health last on the list. Something will probably have to give in the holiday rush, but don’t let it be your health. Take extraspecial care of yourself—try to get an adequate amount of sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
8. Gift yourself with some “me time” each day. Sometimes, this has to be scheduled into your calendar. Have a massage, read a book in a coffee shop or go for walk. Just make sure the focus is on you.
9. Laughter really can be the best medicine. Intense emotions often abound this time of year. Allow yourself to feel and express these emotions. Both laughter and tears may help release stored up emotions; so laugh or cry.
10. Reach out to others. Volunteer activities are a way for people, even children, to reach outside of themselves and give to others. If you are alone at the holidays, this is a wonderful way to share time with others who need you.
11. One of the greatest gifts you can give your family is to learn about other cultures or ethnic groups, and their holiday traditions. Experience some of the celebrations of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Invite an international student or a new-to-the-community family to share the holidays with you.
12. Know that this time of year provides memories, and these may not be happy ones for everyone. Grief often returns with a vengeance during the holidays. Reach out to those who may be saddened or hurting. A phone call, a card, a visit or an invitation to participate in your holiday events is so important.
Aynsley Anderson Sosinski, MA, RN, is community education coordinator at Lawrence Memorial Hospital. She is a Mayo Clinic-certified wellness coach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.