The holidays are filled with fun, food, and family. The expectations and constant gatherings, however, can lead to higher stress, more anxiety, and increased depression during the American holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
Does Stress Increase During the Holidays?
Whether you have tons of family and friends to spread your time between, or you are struggling with grief and loss during this season, the holidays can cause additional stress for everyone.
A 2018 study by the American Psychological Association found that about 38% of people experience increased stress during the holidays. Comparatively, only about 8% of people said they felt genuinely happier throughout the season.
If you are craving a slow, quiet holiday season, protect your free time and your mental health instead of overextending to meet others’ expectations.
7 Ways to Make the Holiday Season More Peaceful
There are tons of ways to focus on yourself and your mental health during the holidays. Here is a list of things you can control when things feel overwhelming.
- Enjoy the holiday happenings. From festive music to Christmas cookies, there are so many seasonal specialties to look forward to. Whatever your favorite is, try to add some low-cost or free options to your annual list, like driving through the Christmas lights, watching your favorite winter movies, or spending a night by the fire with hot chocolate and loved ones.
- Plan ahead. From the menu and drinks to decor and cleanup, planning everything ahead of time can make you feel more in control of the day. Keep a list with blocks of time that are manageable, but do not get upset if you are running a little late!
- Make entertaining a team effort. Wrapping presents and planning parties can take a toll on anyone. Recruit your spouse, children, and family to help decorate and cook for the party. Spreading the load means less work and more family time in the process. Win-win!
- Do not be afraid to say no. Every year, the party invites can be overwhelming. There are an infinite number of holiday activities to do. However, there is only so much time in a day, and so many directions we can spread our time without being overloaded. Declining an invite or agreeing to just make one dish for Thanksgiving dinner is perfectly fine. Setting boundaries and sticking to them is the key to quality mental health.
- Let kids be kids. Parties can be a lot of overstimulation for children. If your kids want to skip a party, or they want to play outside, let them! This will give them better holiday memories and you less stress trying to change their patterns.
- Keep exercising. Schedules can be the first thing to go during times of stress, but they also help bring stability to your daily life. Continue your walks, workout classes, and everyday activities for most of the season. Even a Christmas afternoon walk is a great way to get moving and enjoy the time, too.
- Expect stress, anyway. There is no way to avoid every stitch of stress. Preparing for the inevitable and having your coping mechanisms ready is the best way to get ready for the day. Taking a moment to do a quick breathing exercise or focus on a mantra can bring calm to a stressful moment.
For a quick reset, breathe in for a count of four, and breathe out for a count of two. Repeat a few times until your heart rate slows and you are ready to try again!
Contact Us Today
When it comes to mental health, no one can fight an uphill battle alone. If you are struggling with seasonal affective disorder, holiday stress, or any mental health issues, we can help.
Contact us to set up an appointment and help stop the stigma of being “too strong” to need help.