Whoa. Is it just me or does it seem like the universe flipped a switch the day after Halloween to holiday mode? Every year, the holiday season starts earlier and earlier. There’s also a certain level of expectation about what we’re supposed to feel – joyful, happy, filled with good cheer. Is it any wonder that a lot of people get stressed during this “most wonderful time of the year”? One poll found that 80% of us find the holiday season to be ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ stressful. Yikes! Here are some tips to help all of us make what’s supposed to be fun actually seem more like fun!

Just Breathe

Between work, holiday parties, school functions, shopping, cooking, baking, tree trimming, it seems like there’s no time left. Fitting in too many activities – even if they seem like fun – can leave you frazzled. Did you know that when you’re experiencing stress, you tend to hold your breath? One hypnotherapist suggests that you wear an elastic hairband around your wrist. When you feel the stress coming on, gently snap the elastic and remind yourself to breathe deeply.

Handle Financial Stress

It’s easy to make impulse purchases with all those tempting Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. However, a bargain is not a bargain if it causes you pain in January. Try to stick to a plan. Set a budget for yourself, whether you’re headed to the grocery store or the mall or even planning a vacation to remember. Don’t dip into your savings to buy your children something on their wish list (that they’ll forget about a day later anyway). Get more creative and give the gift of your time and talent. Don’t lose sight of what the season is all about. Also, you shouldn’t feel guilty about exchanging a gift that you won’t use for something that you really need. This will help you save money during the year by taking care of a purchase you planned to buy anyway.

Lessen Family Drama

Seeing extended family can be a great tradition. Just remember that perfect families don’t exist. Also, as we age, things change – and people change. You may find yourself stepping back in time to a role you used to play growing up. The only thing is, you’re who you are now and so are they. Your mom used to be able to whip up a seven-course meal but maybe now she’s having memory problems and forgets ingredients. It happens. 

For those without family, the holidays can be lonely. It can feel like everyone is having a good time except you. Bingeing Christmas rom-com movies may seem like a festive way to get in the mood. Scrolling through friends’ fabulous vacation posts on social media can seem like a way to keep in touch. They can also be a reminder of what you’re missing. The trick here is not to compare your life to others. In a movie, every situation is wrapped up neatly in 90 minutes. Online, we tend to capture the best moments. Remember that life is not that simple. Real people tend to go off-script and luggage gets lost.

Be Kind To Yourself

With so many things going on, you might forget something. Maybe the turkey was a little dry because you left it in too long. Maybe you circled the parking lot for 15 minutes looking for a spot and were late. There are going to be mistakes this season and things beyond your control. Before you catch yourself in a negative self-talk spiral of what you should have done differently, stop. Recognize that there’s only so much you can accomplish. Treat yourself like you would treat someone else you care deeply about.

Post-Holiday Depression

After weeks and weeks of anticipation, there’s a big let-down. The fantasy that this year will be different is dashed again. The perfect holiday never appears. Gift recipients aren’t grateful. The tree is dropping needles. Or maybe it was great and suddenly it’s all over. Reality hits. The scale now reflects all of the extra indulgent sweets and meals. You’re grieving the loss of what was or what you expected the holidays to be.

Take a few minutes to meditate on what did go right. It sounds simple but the idea of counting your blessings can be a good cure. Call a good friend to help lift your spirits. Do something positive for yourself. Take a walk and think about what you have to look forward to. Or spend some time volunteering. Find new reasons to celebrate. Did you know that almost every culture has a festival of lights in the winter months? Lights keep the winter gloom away so don’t feel bad about leaving up some lights for yourself. Or use it as an excuse to burn candles more often.

If these tips don’t seem to be enough, please talk about your feelings with the experts at YourTown Health. They can offer more ways to help that are tailored just for your needs. Click here to see which clinic is closest to you!