As the holiday season begins, you may find yourself dealing with a multitude of emotions.
Studies show that up to 48% of people struggle with a mild form of stress during the holiday season. Of those, 18% say they are very stressed during the holidays.
Where does your stress levels fall during the holidays?
All stress is bad for your health, but holiday stress seems to cause major issues with your health.
As you begin to feel the pressure of the season, you may notice one or two signs that you are stressed. Some signs to look for…
I’m often asked by clients “Why am I so stressed? Why can’t I feel better?”
There are many reasons for holiday stress, and I want to focus on the top four reasons and give you some tips to help you reduce your holiday stress.
You may suffer from holiday stress due to…
Let’s look at each of these stressors and how you can take action to relieve the pressure you are feeling.
The Blown Budget
From buying gifts to entertaining, the holiday season can stretch the best of budgets. Your household budget is set and then the holidays arrive that challenge you to buy beyond your day-to-day expenditures. Sure, you may have budgeted for the extra spending, but is it enough?
Parents and Grandparents resolve NOT to overspend this year, but then those beautiful eyes look up at you with the PLEASE…. and your heart melts. Yes, baby, I’ll make sure you get your favorite gift.
And just like that, your gift buying budget is blown.
Food is another budget buster. From baking to meal planning, food seems to be central to your holiday activities. No matter how you set your holiday budget, your grocery budget is always an unknown.
Gas and travel expenses are definitely budget busters.
With all this added expense to your already stretched budget, stress can attack with the first swipe of your card or the first press of the “Buy Now” button.
Strategies to Relieve Budget Concerns
Before the holiday season begins, develop your holiday budget.
Include in your budget all your normal holiday expenditures. Items such as…
Base your budget on last years’ expenditures and then increase a few percentage points.
Of course, review what you spent last year and decide how you can cut back. Rather than buy five gifts for each of your children or grandchildren, decide to cut back. Relook your decorations, do you really need another figurine or wreath? Think about all the food that was left over last year, prepare your dishes based on what was actually eaten.
Now that you have your budget, make the hard decision that you must not and cannot overspend. This will be the hardest part, but you’ll be proud of yourself, and you’ll not feel the stress of blowing your holiday budget.
Loneliness During the Holidays
Studies show that 31% of people suffer from the stress of holiday loneliness. Even if you’re surrounded by family and friends, you may feel lonely.
Activities, events, and parties seem to be the norm for the holiday season. Family, friends, co-workers seem to be enjoying all the holiday festivities, while you find yourself feeling alone.
Your family may live too far to visit, which prevents you from getting together. Work schedules, health problems, commitments, all play a role in feeling loneliness during the busiest season of the year.
Feelings of loneliness has the same effect on your body as stress. Plus, loneliness makes coping with stress harder.
Strategies to Overcome Loneliness
Embrace technology, especially during the holidays. Today, you’re just a click away from enjoying the season.
Family members unable to travel? Plan online gatherings using platforms like Zoom or Skype. From cooking together to enjoying special events, you’ll enjoy your family and friends even though you’re miles apart. Not as fun as seeing each other, but emails and text messages are easy ways to stay connected too.
Many communities host holiday events all season long. Check your local community calendar to choose some fun outings and then get with your friends or neighbors and make plans for a fun outing.
Love to volunteer your time? Then you’ll find numerous opportunities to lend a helping hand during the holidays. Contact your local charities to discover what touches your heart and sign up.
Of course, don’t get so busy that you find yourself suffering from another level of holiday stress, but when you find yourself feeling the stress of loneliness, take action and enjoy yourself.
Drowning in Overwhelm
Do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed as the holiday season begins to get busier?
The definition of overwhelm is to “bury or drown beneath a huge mass.”
Are you being buried by a calendar that doesn’t allow you to sleep?
You told yourself last year that you were going to learn to say “NO!” this year. But, of course, you didn’t. So here you are meeting yourself coming and going. You’ve got shopping to do, decorations to put up, gifts to wrap, food to cook, baking to do, events and parties to attend, all on top of your already hectic life. The perfect storm for holiday overwhelm.
The downside of being in a constant state of overwhelm is that your health begins to show the signs of chronic stress. You may find yourself
Strategies for Overcoming Overwhelm
It’s easy to feel like you’re drowning when you’ve added so much to your holiday calendar. You’re not alone, but you can learn how to overcome the overwhelm.
First, take your calendar our and decide how to pace yourself. Look at the events that are a must and then say “No” to those events that will cause you to feel rushed and overwhelmed. Setting boundaries with your time is your first step toward feeling at peace with yourself.
Do you travel during the holidays? Do you find that this adds more overwhelm to your life? Then decide how to make this less hectic and more enjoyable. You may decide to cut your visit short so that you can return home for some rest before another big event.
What does your party calendar look like? It’s okay to cut your time at these parties, to give yourself time to return home, decompress, and get a good night’s sleep.
Does your decorating rival the latest home décor magazine? You love how your home looks, but how do you feel while trying to get everything picture perfect? Relax. Keep your decorating to a level that keeps you pleased, but not feeling overwhelmed.
What are your expectations for your family gatherings? We have a running joke in our family; we aim for Hallmark and get the Griswolds. It’s okay, learn to laugh and play. You do not want to feel miserable because of life’s hiccups. From the Christmas tree tipping over to the turkey burning, learn to laugh. This is your life and you’ll love the memories.
You had such high expectations for the year last January. You sat down and set your goals and were committed to accomplish them throughout the year. You went to bed on January 31st and when you woke up it was December 1st.
The year disappeared and your goals are a distant memory. Unmet expectations bring a level of stress where failure reigns.
This can lead to feelings of
When you begin to focus on your unmet expectations you fail to focus on all that you did accomplish. So what if you didn’t get the closet cleaned out, you planted a new flower garden and it was beautiful. Celebrate!
The Holiday Season is prime season to focus on your unmet expectations of the past year. The New Year is fast approaching, and you may feel that you need to try to catch up, which leads to more stress during the holidays.
Strategies to Accept Where You Are
As the year comes to end there is one rule that you may need to adopt in your life: Life gets in the way and it’s not always a bad thing.
I admire you for setting goals for the year. This is something you should do each year.
Should those goals dictate your happiness? NO!
I don’t have time to get into the goal setting process today, but just know, setting goals are a wonderful way to move forward with your health and well-being, but your goals should be adjustable to fit what life is throwing at you throughout the year.
The best advice I can give you is to keep a journal. Use this journal to record all that you do accomplish during the year and then gift yourself this journal at the end of the year and know that you did meet your expectations.
Then celebrate all that you did accomplish.
Holiday stress is real, but it does not need to ruin your holiday season. I’ve chosen four of the top stressors that many of my clients experience and have shared strategies that have proven to work. You may find yourself stressing in other areas of your life during the holidays, but you can use any of these strategies to help relieve your holiday stress.
Connect with yourself, add self-care to your daily to-do list, laugh, and find reasons to enjoy yourself.
Your first line of defense is recognizing the symptoms of stress. Use this FREE guide to help you recognize holiday Stress symptoms.