Calling the holiday season “the most wonderful time of the year” is often a bit of a misnomer. The holidays are an incredibly busy time of year, and they bring a lot of expectations along with them. This is a major source of stress for many people, and you might find yourself dreading the next few weeks as they approach. While some stressors that pop up during the holiday season are unavoidable, some of them can be mitigated, especially if you take the time to prepare yourself now! Here are some ways to help yourself feel less overwhelmed this holiday season.
If your home is the place where friends and family tend to gather during the holidays, you’re under a serious amount of stress at this time of year. Making food and drink, buying gifts, cleaning the house, preparing bedrooms– the work piles up incredibly quickly, whether you’re just holding a single party or you’re hosting multiple overnight guests.
The solution? Ask for help! No one is expected to be an island, especially at this time of year, and it’s unrealistic to expect yourself (or for anyone else to expect you) to do it all alone. Turn this year’s get-together into a potluck where everyone brings a dish to cut down on the amount of cooking you have to do. Have a friend come over to have a gift-wrapping marathon with you. Enlist your partner or children in helping you get the house ready. Sharing the load helps to make it bearable!
The holidays are a time of year where everyone wants to spend some much-needed time together, which can leave your schedule looking more packed than it has in months, and leave you feeling completely worn out. Overcommitment is a real problem during these last few weeks of the year, and if you feel like you don’t have any time to get your responsibilities taken care of, let alone to relax and unwind, you’ll be too stressed and preoccupied to even enjoy seeing your friends and family.
Avoiding this stressor is really about accepting the fact that you can’t do everything and deciding what your priorities are. Which events and visits are the most important for you to attend? Identify these can’t-miss things, and feel free to say no to the others whenever you need to. Doing what’s best for you is always worth missing out on a party or two!
November and December tend to be portrayed as warm and fuzzy times of year where families come together and appreciate each other in blissful harmony. Of course, everyone knows that this couldn’t be further from the truth, and if you have a tense or difficult relationship with any members of your family, the holidays are even more stressful and uncomfortable than they are for the average person as you’re forced into close proximity together during celebrations.
Healing family strife is something that’s usually easier said than done, and the holidays are not the time to be dealing with unnecessary conflict. What’s most important is for you to prioritize your own happiness and peace of mind, and the way to do that is to set boundaries. Boundaries are an action that you take whenever an unpleasant situation arises, like “if we keep talking about politics, I’m going to leave the table,” or “if you continue to make fun of my job, I’m not going to tell you anything else about my work.” Establish your boundaries with your family, and then stick to them!
On the flip side, some people’s stress during the holidays arises from the fact that they don’t have anyone to spend time with. Whether you love far from family and friends or your circle is just small to begin with, being lonely during the holidays is a terrible and incredibly isolating feeling, and it can make the winter months a very sad time for lots of people.
The antidote to loneliness is connection, and when you don’t have the option of spending time with people you love around the holidays, it’s time to seek out other forms of connection to help you feel better! Finding ways to volunteer or donate your time is a great way to keep yourself socializing and busy during the holiday season. You can participate in food drives that give holiday meals to needy families, or visit a local nursing home and spend time with senior citizens who don’t have any family or friends close by. Volunteering is also a great way to boost your mental health and self-esteem, which can help you to feel less downtrodden!
The winter months are a tough time of year for many people, not just because of holiday stress. If your unhappiness persists far after New Years, it’s possible that it’s not just the holidays that are the cause of it, but something clinical like SAD (seasonal affective disorder). Seeking out professional treatment can help your wintertime depression to be more manageable! If therapy, medication, and other more traditional treatments haven’t been effective for you, TMS treatment might help. You can learn more here!