by Anna Remus
As the holiday season approaches, many of us express feelings of stress surrounding the festivities. With the changes in routine, influx of family members and visitors, and increases in sugar and alcohol intake, it's no wonder that these next few months often seem so stressful. On top of all of these changes, the weather is cold and dark, further contributing to bad moods and even depressive thoughts. But despite all of these negative influences, we feel the need to increase our activity levels and put more pressure on ourselves; we worry about preparing for holiday parties, gift exchanges, and New Year's resolutions. It's easy to feel overwhelmed and find it difficult to enjoy what should be a peaceful, happy time to enjoy the company of loved ones.
The good news is that with a little self-TLC, you can enjoy the holiday season and not get caught up in all the bustle. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the upcoming holidays:
- Take Care of Yourself Before Others
If you're stressed about the cookies not being done, or yelling at your spouse about picking something up for a Christmas party, you certainly aren't enjoying the holidays any more than those around you. The truth is, you are not fun to be with if you do not take time for yourself to relax, even if that just means taking 5 minutes at the start of each day to remember what you are celebrating and what it means to you. Above all, start with a good foundation--eat well, get a healthy amount of sleep each night, and make sure to pencil-in some time for physical exercise.
- Don't Over-Do It
When we're celebrating, it seems easy to justify that extra glass of wine or few more Christmas cookies--afterall, if not now, then when? But the truth is that more tonight can make for morestress tomorrow. Overindulgence, including over-spending, is one of the prime sources of discontent after the holidays are over--as the long-term effects of embarrassment, weight gain, and debt last longer than the few hours of enjoyment that such intakes bring. To prevent yourself from going too far, form a plan ahead of time and stick to it--make a budget of what is realistic to spend given your income, and don't let advertisements steer you otherwise; before attending a party, plan to have only a certain number of alcoholic beverages or sweet treats--you'll thank yourself the next day!
- Plan for Family
Spending time with family can be a joy, but too much of any good thing is stressful. If you're spreading yourself too thin with family visits, it may be time to come up with a new solution. Limit the number of parties you throw, simplify the parties you throw, or limit the number of time that you attend each party. It can be difficult to say "no" to family members, but this is often a necessary part of maintaining a health holiday schedule. If you have difficulty interacting with some of your family members, try visualizing discomforting interactions before they potentially happen. Purge worry by imagining what you'd really like to say to that nosy aunt of yours, then imagine a more effective way to handle the situation. You'll be prepared for the worst, and ready to embrace the best!
- Try Something New
Whether due to negative past experiences, or recurring feelings of being overwhelmed or unfulfilled, many people hold onto negative feelings surrounding the holidays. To get out of this emotional rut, try changing your holiday routine. Instead of spending time at home, try taking a vacation and experiencing a change of scenery. If you have feelings of loneliness or unfulfillment, consider volunteering your time to a charity to help you remember what this season is really about. Accept feelings of sadness or loneliness, but consider getting help if they persist or begin to interfere with your usual functioning.
From all of us here at CSAM, Happy Holidays!