Now that Thanksgiving has passed, the holiday season is in full swing, and along with it comes seasonal stress. We often approach this time of year with high expectations and end up feeling anxious and frazzled.
The following are some common sources of seasonal anxiety, along with some tips for managing holiday stress:
Not enough time to get everything done
You may start out the holiday season with plans to make everything so perfect that Martha Stewart would be proud. However, people tend to set expectations that are too high, then run into a time crunch and can’t get everything done.
Tip: Talk to your family about their top priorities for the holiday season. You might be surprised by the activities and traditions they value most! Armed with this knowledge, make sure to focus on family favorites. Also, don’t hesitate to enlist the help of your family members. For example, if everyone is clamoring for your signature dish, enlist some extra hands in the kitchen or turn the job over to your kids if they’re old enough.
Being with family is an important part of the holidays, but it can also be a source of stress. From falling back into old childhood roles to hearing offensive jokes from an uncle who doesn’t know any better, not all family togetherness is a source of joy.
Tip: If certain family members cause you to get stressed out every year, try to limit your contact with them. For example, attend a group dinner and gift exchange, but don’t spend the night. Instead, set a time limit and know that you’ll be out the door in a few hours. You might also consider limiting your visits – or hosting duties – to every other year.
Overindulging in unhealthy, high-calorie foods
The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a particularly difficult one if you’re trying to eat healthy and keep your calories under control. Even if you start out with good intentions, you’ll face a lot of temptation – and perhaps even pressure – to indulge in “just one more piece of pie.”
Tip: Know what tempts you the most, and plan ahead. If you’re hosting, you have more control over the menu, but even if you aren’t, you can still bring a healthy dish to a family dinner. Setting limits before you arrive can help, as can eating mindfully. This way, you can enjoy what you’re having without losing track of how much you’ve eaten.
You may feel pressured to overspend during the holidays, but are your relationships with family, friends and co-workers really dependent on giving them pricey gifts?
Tip: Set a strict budget and stick to it. If necessary, pare down your gift list, perhaps by suggesting that your workplace or family draw names for gift exchanges. Chances are good that your co-workers and family members will find the prospect of having to buy fewer gifts a relief!
To practice effective holiday stress management, try to have realistic expectations and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself or others. Keeping up your regular diet, exercise and sleep routines can help, as can finding ways to de-stress, such as listening to holiday music or going out for coffee with a friend. For more information about having a healthy holiday, contact BMI of Texas.