Managing the stress of the holiday season

While it may seem as though it was just the Fourth of July, it appears the winter holiday season is upon us once again. For many people, this can be a time to celebrate with family and friends and to remember those who may no longer be with us. For many people, this time can be one of what can feel like, at times, unbearable stress.

The holiday season can be one of great importance to many people. We may find ourselves trying to get together with those we love, with our friends and families, with those we have not seen in a while for myriad reasons. We may find ourselves running from here to there and everywhere in between. We may find ourselves attending gatherings or hosting gatherings. All of this may lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm. It always is important to remember to take time during this busy season to take care of ourselves, to take time to practice self-care and to learn to rest when we need to do so.

It also may behoove you to remember that it is perfectly acceptable to say “No” to those things that no longer bring you joy. If you are feeling overwhelmed by all the holiday get-togethers, it is okay to decline an invitation and send your regards. If you find yourself feeling stressed out because you have 35 people coming over for a gathering, it is acceptable to ask those guests to contribute a dish to the meal. You do not have to do everything for everyone all the time. It is okay for you to ask for help if you are feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed.

The holiday season can be a joyous time for many people while for others it can lead to feelings of anxiety. It always is good to practice self-care but perhaps even more important during this season. I have had several clients recently ask me what self-care is, what that term means. Practicing self-care means doing healthy things for you that bring you pleasure and joy. Perhaps it means making time to read a favorite book or watch a holiday movie. Perhaps it means scheduling a massage, manicure or pedicure if that is within your budget. Perhaps it means going for a walk or run or bike ride. Self-care can be anything healthy that feels good to you that helps you manage feelings of stress, anxiety or overwhelm. What can you do during this holiday season to make yourself feel good? What can you do to take care of your own needs. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Remember that it is okay to take care of yourself so that you can better take care of those you love.

Managing stress and anxiety during the holiday season can mean for some remembering that nothing needs to be perfect. When we strive for perfection, we may notice that we feel constantly let down and disappointed with ourselves, with a situation or with others if we expect perfection from them. Remember that it is okay to accept that you have done your best; that is always good enough. No one can ask for more than your best. It always is good to remember that you are doing the best you can with what you have right now. Remember that most people are doing the best they can with what they have. It always is good to remember that you are worthy of love and belonging simply because you are human, not because your Christmas tree is decorated perfectly.

With the holiday season now upon us, remember that it is okay to say “No” to the things that no longer bring you joy. The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. Remember that it is acceptable to decline invitations, to cut back on your cooking or baking and ask for help. Doing healthy things to manage your stress, anxiety and overwhelm can mean a more joyous holiday season not just for you but for those you love.

~ Karri Christiansen, MSW, LSW, CADC, CCTP

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