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Tips for Reducing Stress During the Holiday Season

The holidays are supposed to be a joyous occasion, right? But for many, the holiday season can bring on feelings of overwhelming stress, anxiety and depression. Common worries include:
  • Financial worries - Attempting to buy the nicest presents or throw the most lavish parties even if it is not within your budget
  • Unrealistic expectations - The assumption that the holidays will always be a happy, perfect time
  • Family Conflicts - Seeing family members you may be or be uncomfortable around or have a conflict with
  • Overwhelmed - Taking on too many tasks including shopping, decorating, cooking and party planning.
  • Routine Changes - You may have a busy more chaotic schedule or changes in your daily routine during the holidays
When you are dealing with these stressors, try to regroup and follow these tips:
  • Stick to a budget - Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend, then stick to your budget. An affordable option could be gifting homemade gifts or drawing names out of a hat and gifting for just that one person.
  • Be Realistic - Realizing that holidays won't be perfect goes a long way to cut stress and depression for those with impossibly high standards. Pleasant surprises will seem like a bonus, instead of making up for a perceived shortfall.
  • Family Differences - Just because it's a holiday doesn’t mean family problems will go away. If you have a hard time being around your certain relatives, it's okay to set limits with your time. Try not to engage in arguments, instead set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion.
  • Delegate, Delegate, Delegate - One of the most common sources for personal stress during the holidays comes from trying to take too much responsibility on your shoulders. Find relatives willing to help (or unwilling to for that matter) and shift some of the duties on them.
  • Keep Your Routine - If you are cranky and overtired, it won’t be a good thing for you or your family. Try to get plenty of sleep, exercise and healthy foods during the holiday season.
  • And if Nothing Else, Remember – To pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Spend a little time by yourself if you can. Meditate, or do some relaxation breathing. Go for a short walk.
Professional Help for your Christmas Stress

If you have tried the coping strategies above, and still feel depressed or hopeless during or after the holidays, then you might benefit from professional counseling. Counselors who specialize in Christmas stress know all the “triggers” that can cause these negative feelings and know how to instruct you on avoiding these triggering events, or cope with them in a much more productive manner. Bottom line: these are professionals who understand the seriousness of holiday stress and the impact it is having on your life.

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