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Is Holiday Stress A Real Thing?

December is a time for wonder, love, joy, and….stress? It’s okay to admit that this time of year is not always snowflakes and rainbows for everyone.  Many people find the winter season to be much more stressful than any other time of the year.  The holiday season especially can be very stressful as we gather together with people we love but may not want to spend hours with or as we try to figure out exactly which gift will be the most pleasing to those we love. There are also the moments when the absence of a loved ones just a tiny bit heavier on our hearts than other times during the year.  

This kind of stress is absolutely normal and can be managed in many different ways, here are a few tips and tricks to help you get through the winter/holiday season:

  1. Maintain your health.  Winter is a time when going for a jog may not be as pleasant due to freezing temperatures and holiday baked goods are invading our homes.  It is easy to get off track with our health during this season.  If you do have to change up your routine that’s fine, but don’t stop exercising.  And let’s be realistic, those holiday cookies are hard to avoid.  Go ahead and eat one or two, just don’t go overboard.  Staying healthy is absolutely imperative for managing stress.
  2. Ward off sickness as much as possible.  Take a little extra vitamin C in either by drinking more fruit juices, eating more fruits, or taking a vitamin C supplement. Stay away from people that you know are ill.  Go ahead and leave the neighbor some chicken soup…on the porch…and text them from the germ-free safety of your car to let them know it’s there. Wrap up when it’s cold outside, hat, coat, gloves, thick socks, and scarves, you can never be too safe.  Stay up to date on your vaccines for COVID-19, influenza, pneumonia, etc.
  3. Know your limits.  Learn to recognize when things are starting to build up or overwhelm you and set a limit.  Do not take on more projects than you can handle.  It is okay to say “no” to some of the invites you get for different celebrations, politely.  It is okay to say “no” to having 32 members of your family come over and “chill” until 2 am the day before a big celebration or even having 6 family members fly in and stay at your house.  It is okay to say “no” to buying gifts beyond your means just because you aim to please. It is even okay to say “no” to house sitting for your neighbor during this super busy time of year, even if they house sat for you when you went on vacation this summer.  Know what you can and cannot manage.
  4. Take breaks.  When things get overwhelming, step out or get away.  Go for a walk.  Take that nap you really need.  Go for a drive.  Do not feel like you have to be there for everyone else all the time.  They want the best version of you, and sometimes that means you need to get away from it all and reset.
  5. Do what you enjoy.  Holiday traditions are wonderful, but you don’t have to carry on with all of them.  Do what you love and don’t force yourself to do things you can’t stand for the sake of “tradition”.  Doing things we don’t like always causes stress.  If you don’t like putting up a Christmas tree and decorating it, don’t do it.  If you hate the taste of latkes, don’t make them just because you feel obligated to uphold the tradition. Just do the things you want to do.  You can still pass on your memories of the other things through stories and picture sharing with the family.

Do what you can to make your holiday season as stress free as possible.  Yes, it’s great that you want everyone else to enjoy themselves, but it is important that you are also able to enjoy yourself!

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