The holiday seasons are a time for joy and hope. Along with the sparks of joy from the holiday music and the sparks of hope from the holiday cheer, 38% of the general population report increased stress during the holidays (Community Health Center, 2020). Here are some tips to be proactive in reducing this year’s holiday stress.
-Keep a holiday “to-do” list: create a to-do list for events, gift buying, and meals to make. Highlight the things that are high priority, then begin to focus on one task at a time, checking off as you go.
-Set realistic expectations: It is essential not to get overwhelmed by the pressure to meet unrealistic holiday expectations. Identify the most important holiday task and stick to those. Do not push yourself beyond your limit.
-Track your spending: Set a budget for the holiday and track your spending.
-Make one financial decision at a time: Space out your holiday spending so that you are not spending large amounts at one time.
-Avoid temptation: Avoid opportunities for impulse spending. Try leaving a credit/debit card at home while shopping for gifts and only bringing enough cash for the budget.
-Remember what is important: Remember what the holidays are about. Spend more time focusing on your family, friends, and other relationships rather than material items.
-Take care of yourself: Be aware of getting an adequate amount of sleep, engaging in physical activity, and taking care of your mind and body to help combat stress. No matter how hectic the holiday season gets, make time for yourself.
-Ask for support: When you notice that the stress is beginning to build, seek support from a friend or a family member. If the stress and overwhelmed feelings continue, reach out to your therapist or client support specialist for extra guidance (American Psychological Association, 2021).
Here are three mindfulness techniques to help combat stress this holiday season.
Mindful walking: If you find yourself overwhelmed during holiday shopping, try mindful walking. Mindful walking is to first stop or slow down for a few short moments and connect with your breath. As you slowly begin to move, allow your attention to notice your orientation- your feet connecting to the ground, the weight and warmth of your clothes against your body. Notice the temperature of the environment you are in against your skin. Begin to notice the things around you.
Mindful breathing: This exercise allows you to become aware of your breathing. It is easy to use in every situation, especially around the holiday season. Unlike other breathing exercises, mindful breathing is where you become aware of the sensations of your breath. As you begin to focus on your breathing, notice the feeling of the coolness of your inhalation and warmness of your exhalation.
Mindful reflection: When holiday stress turns your holiday cheer into negativity, use mindful reflection. Mindful reflection is when you allot a specific time of the day to sit down and reflect on the previous events that have occurred throughout the day. Then you write down three good/positive things that have occurred (Shattell & Johnson, 2017).
This holiday season be prepared for the extra stress by using these proactive tips and mindfulness techniques to combat holiday stress.
Shattell, M., & Johnson, A. (2017). Three Simple Mindfulness Practices to Manage Holiday Stress. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services, 55(12), 2–4. https://doi.org/10.3928/02793695-20171117-01
American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Dealing with financial stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved November 19, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/holiday-money.
Community Health Center of NRV. (2020, August 19). Stress and the holidays: Tips for coping. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://chcnrv.org/news/stress-and-the-holidays-tips-for-coping/.