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Prepare for a Less-Stressed Holiday Season

November 30, 2015|Counseling & Psychotherapy

Thanksgiving has just kicked off a five week race of festivities until New Year’s Day.

Although the holidays can be a time of joy, they can also be exhausting and stressful. Here are our tips on what you can do to prepare for a less-stressed holiday season.

Manage Expectations. Are your expectations for the “perfect” holiday too high? Are you expecting too much of yourself – and of others? Let go and don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy time with your family and friends without feeling like you have to “do” the holidays a certain way.

Slow down & simplify. For most people, the gift of time with family and friends is more important than expensive gifts or elaborate plans. Let yourself enjoy a simple holiday where you can focus on enjoying the people you love.

Take care of your physical self. Even 20 minutes of physical activity can help you de-stress. Give yourself permission to enjoy holiday treats but balance them with healthful food choices that will nourish and give you strength. Ask yourself, “Is this going to make me feel good, physically and mentally?”

Get rest. Everything feels 10 times harder when you’re exhausted! Set a bedtime and stick to it.

Be clear about your needs. If there are things you need from your friends and family to make the holidays a pleasant experience for you, ask for what you want.

Say no when you need to. While the holidays can be full of events and parties, you don’t need to accept every invitation or participate in every event. You can diplomatically decline by being polite, gracious, and brief.

Recreation/re-creation. Make the time to do the meaningful activities that YOU enjoy. Traditions can evolve! Maybe you’re “supposed” to go shopping or do the cooking, but if what will truly bring you joy is skating on the Frog Pond, re-evaluate your priorities. What will mean more: a home cooked meal prepared while you wished you were doing something else, or ordering a pizza after a day out skating with the family?

Let go of the “shoulds.” We often feel we must be joyous during the holiday season and your social media feed may be full of “picture perfect” families and holidays. It’s okay to acknowledge that the holidays are a difficult time for many. Accept your feelings and know that you are not alone.

Use your support system. Reach out to people who can relate. Sharing what you’re feeling with a trusted friend can go a long way.

Talk to a professional. Professional psychological and behavioral health services for help with stress management are available.

Gratitude. Make the choice to focus on what’s good, no matter how small.

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