Are Holidays Stressing You Out?
Long before Thanksgiving and Christmas roll around, many people begin to worry about financial burdens and family drama. Managing holiday stress can be the best gift you give yourself all year.
According to the American Psychological Association, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can have a greater psychological effect on people than they may realize. While lack of money and time are often to blame for jingle-jangled nerves, studies show everything from commercialism to job pressures can increase stress. Unmanaged stress can cause health problems ranging from insomnia and a weakened immune system to high blood pressure and depression.
Ross Teemant, L.C.S.W., director at Texas Health Springwood Hospital, suggests the most effective way to beat the damaging effects of holiday psychological stressors is to create a plan and stick to it. Developing boundaries when it comes to budget and family obligations is essential.
“Start holiday planning early so your responsibilities are spread over time and may not seem as daunting as when they all pile up during the holiday season,” Teemant says. “Efficient planning helps reduce a person’s to-do list and frees up time to enjoy relationships and family traditions.”
Try these additional stress-busting techniques to deal with mounting seasonal pressures.
- Practice time management and prioritize activities to head off hurt feelings and avoid guilt or regret. Plan to attend a limited number of parties or family gatherings and communicate your plan diplomatically
- Set a budget for the holidays and include a category for unplanned gifts or last-minute expenses.
- Discuss the budget with your family. Managing expectations early can help shift the focus from material gifts to quality time with loved ones.
“Take a step back and focus on the meaning of the holidays according to your values or faith tradition, and then ensure your approach to the season allows you to enjoy that meaning,” suggests Teemant. “Creating a thoughtful plan helps you balance your needs with serving others to promote everyone’s mental and physical well-being”