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Coping With Stress During The Holidays

The holidays can be a magical time of year filled with festivities, friends and my personal favorite, delicious food! At the same time, there are many people who feel their stress levels rise during the holidays. In fact, a survey conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research found that in the United States, people are more likely to feel an increase in stress rather than a decrease during the holidays.

Some people can experience stress from what seems like the overwhelming responsibility of hosting or attending holiday gatherings. For some, the season of celebration is marred by a past hurt or loss that brings unwanted sadness during a time that is “supposed” to feel joyous.

With the holiday season just around the corner, consider the below tips and suggestions for coping with and minimizing holiday stress:

Resolve To Stay Positive

Unfortunately, many people cite family gatherings as the source of their stress during the holidays. Whether it’s a political or personal disagreement or merely the tension that can result from putting various personality types under the same roof for an extended period of time, family gatherings can sometimes feel like a difficult affair.

Take a deep breath and commit this season to looking for the positive qualities in those around you and focusing on them. Pick your battles: If you know ahead of time that you disagree with another’s viewpoint, try to stick to other topics of conversation or even seek out “common ground” interests that you may share with them, like a movie or the family pet.

You may also want to consider working ahead of time to resolve any serious disputes to avoid big blow outs that can happen in the heat of the moment.

Ultimately though, it comes down to the only attitude within your control—your own. While you can’t control the actions of others, you can control your reactions, and you just may be surprised by how much one positive outlook can affect the surrounding circumstances.

Don’t Compare

Especially for those hosting gatherings or festivities, keep your expectations of yourself and others within reason. Avoid comparing your current event to past events or events hosted by other family members and friends.

Instead, try to be present and enjoy the moment and place you are in! Take everything in stride and remember that there are just some things you can’t plan for, and that’s okay. Be patient with yourself and know that your best effort is enough! Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Additionally, it is important to try to stay within your means and keep your expectations in balance when it comes to spending money. With the onslaught of consumer marketing and the unending sales surrounding the holiday season, it is no wonder we feel precious to spend in order to “keep up” with the latest and greatest.

While gift buying and decorating are wonderful ways to celebrate, they can still be done well on a budget that works for you! Budgeting ahead of time and keeping in mind that your efforts are enough can help relieve some of the stress and precious associated with holiday shopping and spending.

Stay Connected

At one time or another, almost everyone has undergone the temptation to isolate oneself from others out of fear of being vulnerable, or even in an attempt to avoid feeling at all, knowing that certain memories may lead to experiencing sadness.

If your holiday season is tinged with sadness due to a past loss or heartbreak, know that it’s okay to allow yourself to experience the range of emotions you will most likely encounter as a result. Yet, in these times especially, seek community! Whether it’s meeting with a close friend for lunch or attending a community event, getting out and interacting with others even just for a short while will likely do your heart some good.

If you begin to feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to consider seeking counseling from a licensed professional who can help you deal with these feelings in a healthy way.

Get Some Sunlight

The darker days and shorter daylight hours associated with winter can have a real impact on your emotions and energy level due in part to the fact that reduced exposure to sunlight can affect the body’s internal clock. For some, a more extreme manifestation of this can occur as a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder whose symptoms include irritability and feelings of depression.

Medical professionals recommend doing your best to get some sunlight each day—whether it’s bundling up for a quick walk or even investing in a full spectrum lamp. This simple adjustment may make all the difference!

Don’t Overcommit

Another holiday stressor experienced by many is the barrage of parties, events, and gatherings that one is invited to or, in some cases, expected to attend. Many people feel pressured, whether by the expectations of others or the fear of missing out, to be over-involved.

Budget your time in a way that works best for you and your family and don’t be afraid to say “no” to some of the activities that don’t fit within that. Prioritize the quality of your time spent at events over the quantity of events you attend. As well, be sure to be realistic when offering to initiate or host gatherings and try to avoid committing solely out of feelings of obligation due to guilt.

Regardless of its varying causes, it is never enjoyable to be bound by feelings of anxiety, sadness or frustration during the holidays, but know that there are actions and adjustments that can minimize the stress that may come your way. With this in mind, we wish you an enjoyable, safe and stress-free holiday season from all of us at Birthright!

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