Some people call it the most wonderful time of the year. And yet, for most Americans, we usually find ourselves stressed out during the holiday season.
The hectic nature of the holidays tends to overload us with concerns about having enough time and also enough money. In fact, as of December 10th, up to 38% of Americans have already gone into debt to buy holiday gifts. More often than not, we feel pressured to make the holidays the best that we can for our families. Not to mention the emotions that this season can bring up - for some, it is purely a joyous season, and for others it can be much more challenging. The absence of a deceased family member can be felt more acutely during the holidays, and the presence of extended family members sometimes leads to conflict. Sometimes we experience a roller coaster of emotional highs and lows in a relatively short time frame and in rapid succession.
Given all of these factors, it is no surprise that holiday stress leaves us especially prone to fall into sedentary behavior and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Research has shown that men and women alike turn to comfort eating and drinking. For those in recovery from a substance abuse addiction, the emotions of the holidays can put you at risk for relapse.
So what can you do? The good news is that we can take practical steps to prevent the holiday blues from getting us down:
- Acknowledge your feelings. It’s ok to feel down - we can’t all expect to be happy just because it’s the holidays.
- Reach out and enhance your support system. The holidays are a great time to seek out spiritual, community, or other social events. Have a therapist? Consider a few more appointments during this hectic season. At the same time, know your limits and learn how to say no.
- Keep up healthy habits. Avoid overindulgence, follow a healthy and balanced diet, exercise to destress and maintain energy, and get plenty of rest. It might be hard to muster the motivation to get off the couch, but you will thank yourself later.
- Make time for yourself. Set aside some alone time each day to recharge by yourself. Make an appointment with yourself for R&R time and stick to it, no matter how busy you are.
All the best to you and yours this Holiday Season!