We all look forward to the holiday season! There is the joy and excitement of spending time with family and friends, shopping, sharing, gifting, and eating holiday foods. All of this is good in moderation. But one of the most important things about the holidays is to be mindful of your mental health, and your need to “de-compress.” After all, holidays by definition are meant to be a respite from the busy-ness of work and everyday activities. Holidays are meant to lower our stresses, not just replace, or add to them!
How to De-Stress the Holidays
Many people feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. There is the pressure to spend time with a lot of people, attend parties, see the relatives. On top of that, if you are hosting any of those parties or family meals, the expectations to make everything perfect can add to your stress. Then there are finances. These are challenging times for most families who might be dealing with cutting back on groceries and other expenditures due to inflation. So adding the expectations of buying gifts or hosting meals are additional stressors. Here are a few suggestions for reducing your holiday stress.
Edit Your Calendar
Create a list of the things you want to do over the holidays, then prioritize them, and see if you can reduce the list. Learn to say “No” to events that are not high priorities and don’t feel guilty about it. You need to keep your stress levels down and not have your holidays fly by with hurry and scurry.
Clarify Family Expectations
For some people, their family’s expectations are their number one stressor over the holidays! Maybe they are expected to travel to visit family which is expensive. Or there are expectations to have the entire family for Christmas dinner (also expensive, plus stressful). Perhaps the gift expectations are high. Or maybe certain family relationships are strained and thus holiday gatherings are challenging. Why not opt for outdoor family gatherings (if weather permits) like skating, going for a walk, or going to a movie all together rather than hosting large meals.
Create a budget and stick to it
It is easy to overspend during the holidays. But that only increases your stress going into the new year. Set appropriate boundaries such as suggesting that the extended family only buy gifts for kids under age 12. Or do a Secret Santa where everyone brings a $25 gift, wrapped, and you play the game where you aren’t sure what the gifts are or who will end up with what. Turn the gift giving into fun instead of stress. Or bake cookies as gifts. When it comes to finances, everyone in this year of high inflation should be prepared to dial down the gift giving in exchange for focusing on being together and enjoying the holidays.
We know that COVID is still with us, along with the seasonal flu, the RSV respiratory virus, and the common cold, all of which are visiting as many of us as they can. If possible, mask in crowded spaces, eat healthy foods that are rich in vitamins and moderate your intake of all those tempting cookies, cakes, and chocolate. If drinking is an issue for you, make sure you set limits to stay safe, and learn to say “no” to going over your limit. Switch to non-alcoholic options.
Have fun and take care of yourself!
Got kids? Make a snowman with your kids or go skating with them. Visit the light displays. Bake cookies, play a board game, or do a puzzle with them. Go for a drive and play “I Spy” with them. Don’t forget yourself though. Look for ways to reward yourself with “me time” to relax. Read a book in front of the fireplace. Listen to your favourite music. Do that hobby you love but never make time to enjoy. Make your holiday a time when you care for YOU, do something fun for YOU. Or do something you’ve never done that you’ve always wanted to try. Maybe it’s taking your first ski lesson, or visiting a local historic site, or trying out a café you’ve never visited. Whatever it is, use your imagination and treat yourself to something different before you have to rush back into your old routine in the new year.
Enjoy your holiday season with less stress, more fun, and more relaxation!
Speaking of the new year, think about your overall physical and mental health and take time to set some goals. How would you like to improve your health this coming year? Not just maintain your health….improve it! Would you like to lose weight? Quit smoking? Get more exercise? Eat more vegetables and less red meat? Remove things from your schedule that no longer serve you? Think about making 2023 not just a happy new year, but a healthier one too!
At Health Risk Services, we want to wish you and yours Happy Holidays and a Healthy 2023!