Managing Stress During the Holiday Season

The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of year, while simultaneously bringing on extra stressors for many of us. Perfectionistic tendencies, comparison, depression and anxiety can all make an appearance as the stress increases. Here are a few tips to manage stress this season:

  1. Recognize and acknowledge your stress and emotions – Take time to check in with yourself and your emotions. Talk with a supportive friend or partner or take some quiet time to yourself and dig deeper than “I’m fine” to check in on what emotions you may be experiencing or attempting to mask. Acknowledge what you are feeling, and validate your emotional experience. This may sound like “I am feeling really overwhelmed and fearful that I am not managing everything as well as I should be. Overwhelm and fear are really challenging emotions to sit with, and here I am showing up for myself by allowing them to be acceptable to feel. This is a really challenging time for me, which is completely reasonable.”

2. Identify your needs – When we are stressed we have a harder time identifying what could help provide us support or a break. Consider what helps you feel grounded, joyful, or content. Examples could include exercise, time in nature, quality family or friend time, baking, taking a hot bath or shower, asking for help with emotional labor (such as planning, keeping track of gifts etc.), asking for help with tangible tasks. Give yourself flexibility to take small steps in meeting your needs verses getting stuck in all or nothing thinking – Small steps for self care are better than no steps!

3. Ask for support – Ask for what you need. Make a plan with your partner how both of you can be supported in meeting your needs. Make a plan together for who is taking care of what task (including emotional labor).

4. Re evaluate your expectations – Get in touch with what your priorities are for this time of year. Quality time? Making / baking and sharing food? Finding everyone the perfect gift? Volunteering? Whatever is on your list, keep in mind that not everything can be a priority – there will be items on the list that you may not get to. Recognize and remind yourself that this is completely acceptable.

5. Be cautious of comparison – Recognize how you feel when you are scrolling through social media, or catching up with other neighborhood parents and hearing how put together and effortless their holiday season sounds. This may be a good time to limit your social media access and re assess boundaries with other friends or family that you do not have authentic relationships with.

6. Reach out for additional support – Schedule time with professionals for additional support. This could be therapy, getting a massage, chiropractic care, yoga, or a support group.

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