Despite its bright lights, colorful decorations and celebratory atmosphere, the holiday season can still be overwhelming at times. This time of year brings unique stressors such as extra social commitments, family obligations, crowded stores and ongoing pressure to shop for gifts. Alongside these anxiety triggers, you may also feel lonely, fatigued or hopeless – especially if you are already dealing with symptoms of a mental illness like seasonal depression. Read on for our top tips for managing holiday stress.
1. Do a Digital Detox
Technology’s constant presence in our lives is convenient, but it can also be a source of stress. If the ping of an incoming email or breaking news alert has you conditioned to pick up your phone immediately, you may benefit from a digital detox this holiday season. Consider keeping your phone turned off or on airplane mode during the workday, so you can devote your full attention to the tasks on your to-do list. If you use your smartphone as an alarm clock, try buying a different alarm to wake you up and sleeping with your phone outside the bedroom. That way, the alerts on your screen won’t be the first thing you see when you get up in the morning.
2. Practice the Art of Saying No
Between work and family commitments, many people have overloaded calendars during the holidays. When you get invited to something such as a potluck or gift exchange, stop and think before immediately agreeing to attend. If you are already feeling stretched too thin, adding another obligation to your schedule will only worsen your holiday stress. Prioritize what’s most important to you, or things you think you would genuinely enjoy, and do not feel guilty about saying no to the rest.
3. Ask for Help
You don’t have to struggle with loneliness, seasonal depression or holiday stress alone. If these burdens start feeling like too much to bear, there’s no shame in reaching out to others and asking for extra support. By the same token, check in on friends and family members to ask how they’re doing. They’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness, especially if they are also having a tough time coping this holiday season. Knowing that loved ones are there for you when you need someone to talk to can be enormously reassuring.
4. Stick to Your Routine
Most people are creatures of habit. If you feel out of sorts during the holidays, it could be because you’re doing unhealthy things like not getting enough sleep, skipping meals or neglecting other aspects of your self-care. Maintain as many elements of your daily routine as you can, even amid the holiday hustle and bustle. Make time to exercise, eat balanced meals and fit in activities that help you relax, like meditation and yoga.
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