The last two months of the year remind us that another is almost over and also brings holidays known for family get-togethers, presents, and parties. While all of those things can be positive, they can also bring a lot of holiday stress to the table aside those home-cooked meals.
According to a 2015 Healthline study, stress levels during the holidays are described as “very or somewhat” elevated by 62 percent of respondents. People often feel pressure to spend too much on presents, feel overwhelmed by the number of commitments, and are sometimes faced with difficult family situations.
Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress
To get ahead of holiday stress, here are some easy ways to cope with stress during the holiday season.
1. Learn to say “no”
Don’t over-commit yourself. Take a mental inventory of every party, get-together, volunteer opportunity, etc. and make sure to agree to only those things that you are sure you can handle. A big problem during the holidays is biting off more than we can chew, which leaves us overwhelmed and burnt out.
2. Set a budget
Financial stress is another stress-inducer during the holiday season. Purchasing presents can quickly add up and while we don’t want to disappoint children and loved ones, sometimes we just don’t have the resources. Make a holiday budget to ensure that you know exactly what you have to spend and stick to it.
Give the gift of thanks: Here’s why keeping a gratitude list is good for you.
3. Get moving
Exercise is always good for your physical and emotional health. It’s also a great holiday stress reliever! Make sure to find a way to stay active during the holiday season, whether it’s walking, the gym, or exercise classes so that you remain level headed and grounded during potentially stressful situations.
No excuses: Why adults should play outside in the winter.
4. Schedule “YOU” time
Schedule time for yourself into your holiday calendar. Take some time to reset with home time, relaxing hobbies you enjoy, and anything that will allow you to recharge and refresh amidst otherwise busy times. If you know you’re an introverted person, solo time is crucial in allowing you to avoid burnout and holiday overwhelm.
Go deeper: Is it time to review your self care routine?
5. Talk it out
Talk to others about how you are feeling this holiday season. If it’s a hard one for you, tell friends or family. If holiday stress is overwhelming or you don’t feel comfortable with any of those, see about talking to a therapist or social worker. Trained mental health professionals are able to help give you coping mechanisms and tools necessary to deal with any emotional issues that may prohibit you from enjoying the season. No matter who you talk to, make sure you talk.
Learn more: Do you know what to expect from therapy?
BONUS! Indulge without the bulge
This shouldn’t surprise you: studies show that there is a spike in weight gain over the holiday season. Americans, on average, gain about 1.3 pounds after the holidays. That may not sound significant, but the problem is that people don’t lose the weight and that extra pound adds up over the years.
There are smart ways to indulge to prevent overeating during holidays. But let’s be honest, part of the stress of the holidays is breaking routine: you might skip a gym workout for travel or family time and your regular diet is out the window. A post-holiday detox can help avoid the bloat and get your diet back on track.
Try this: 5 Day Body Reset Diet
Erin Bahadur is a NASM-certified personal trainer, writer, and owner of the blog Erin’s Inside Job, a site dedicated to focusing on physical, emotional, and mental health. She is currently working on an addiction and recovery-based memoir to destigmatize mental health and addiction issues in our society. When she’s not writing, she’s trying out new desserts in Chicago and relaxing with her husband Neil and her dog Donut.