Deck the halls, we are officially in “holiday season”. Do your holidays come with a side dish of stress?
While holiday stress tends to affect every person in one way or another, the American Psychological Association asserts that holiday stress disproportionately affects women. Women traditionally carry the extra burden of shopping, wrapping, hosting and prepping holiday events, creating time crunches, emotional and physical stress and, let’s be honest here, burn out. Women, listen up: Tis the season for setting boundaries and taking care of yourself!
Holiday specific stressors include:
- Family visits and holiday parties are a common source of seasonal anxiety. From planning and hosting events to a packed social calendar, too much activity may cause you to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season.
- Many people have unreasonable expectations of themselves — and others — during the holiday season.
- Holiday celebrations typically involve lots of food — some of which may not be diet- or allergy-friendly for you or your loved ones.
- Gaining a few extra pounds may be a seasonal rite of passage for some, but it can be a significant source of stress for anyone who is trying to lose or maintain their weight. Changes in exercise and sleep routines can also be a source of stress and may lead to worsening of other health conditions.
- If you have experienced trauma, family conflict, or loss of a loved one, the holidays may cause you to feel especially sad or lonely.
Here are 10 ways to beat holiday stress:
- Take a daily walk with no phone, no agenda. Unplug from the world. Ten minutes every morning makes a huge difference in how you face the day.
- Stick to your routine and schedule your priorities first. Do you usually workout on Monday, Wednesday and Friday? Go to your book club on Thursday evenings? Do something special on Friday nights? Go! Put these on your calendar in pen!
- Cut down on emotional eating. Identify exactly what you’re feeling before you take the first bite. Are you hungry? thirsty? tired? stressed? sad? happy? Give it a name, and then choose to eat it. Choose each bite. It takes the “power” away from the food.
- Say “No.” We go overboard to please others. Accept the commitments you want. Period.
- Ask for help and delegate. Accustomed to doing it all? Most of the people in your life are accustomed to you doing it all too, and most likely, they don’t realize you need help. They aren’t mind readers. Ask for help, and be ready to assign a task.
- Create a nightly tranquil self-care routine rather than plopping in front of the television. Consider taking a hot bath, and surround yourself with fragrant candles and your favorite music. You might even “unplug” from all electronics. Gasp, I know!
- Downsize meals — consider less dishes, or host a community meal where everyone brings their favorite dish. This creates inclusion and connectedness.
- Reduce gifting — Set boundaries and limits early, and stick to them. Decide for whom you are buying presents, and decide on a quantity. When we give with overabundance to the people in our lives we desensitize them to the meaning of the gifts.
- Simplify plans with close friends. Save the holiday get-together for after New Year’s. For now, get together for coffee as a respite from the holiday flurry.
In essence, what all of this means is … slooow down … enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays, and most of all fill your holiday with joy, love, gratitude and merriment. There’s much to celebrate — including a less-stressed you!
Join Melissa for her Best Year Ever virtual workshop on January 11th to set intentions and goals for 2022!
Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.