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Tips On Surviving Holiday Stressors

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

For some, the mere thought of the holiday season is enough to send them into a panic attack. Whether it’s the thought of spending all your money on gifts, the thought of being around family members that you consider to be less than pleasant, or the idea of spending the holidays alone after losing someone close to you, the holidays can be difficult for everyone, and for a wide variety of reasons. Getting through the holiday season intact doesn’t have to be impossible, and it isn’t. Here are some tips for keeping your mental health in check this holiday season.

Stick To Your Routine Routines are important for our mental health. Humans are creatures of habit, and when things start to get too spontaneous or out of the ordinary, anxiety can set in. Stick to your normal routine of doing things as much as you can. Obviously if there is a holiday party on a Friday night, you might be home a little later than you would otherwise but stay mindful of what your overall schedule looks like. Try your hardest to adhere to it. If you find yourself getting too overwhelmed or out of sorts… if your mental health is starting to suffer… cut back on some of your holiday to-dos.

Manage Your Expectations It’s easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer and want your house to look like the cover of Home & Garden magazine, but it doesn’t have to. Keep in mind that the exact amount of work you feel like putting into the holiday season is exactly how much you are required. If you want your house decorated to the nines, do it… if you have the financial means, time, and energy to do so. If you don’t have all of the things, remember, it’s okay. The perfect holiday doesn’t exist. And if you are happy and healthy, that is all that matters. Don’t put unnecessary stress on yourself striving for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner, or the perfectly decorated home. Perfection is an unachievable standard, in any season.

Step Up The Self-Care The holidays are a time for giving, but don’t forget to take care of your own needs first. Many people think of self-care as facial masks, pedicures, and bubble baths. Sure, those are self-care activities, but so are respecting your own boundaries, taking a break when you get overwhelmed, or buying yourself a small gift while out shopping for others. Taking care of yourself first is important every day, but it is especially important during stressful times like the holiday season; particularly if you’re someone who already lives with a mental-health disorder. While the holidays are for thinking of others, we must always think of ourselves first so that we have enough of ourselves to give. After all, you cannot pour from an empty cup!

Plan Ahead and Hold Your Boundaries It might be helpful to map out your holiday season ahead of time. For example, put pen to paper and write out a budget for gifting. Decide ahead of time what and how much you are willing to do. Whether that means cooking, contributing to others’ parties, gifting, it’s good to have an idea in your mind before the holiday season is in full swing, so you’re not caught off-guard. Spontaneity during times of stress is a common way to over-extend ourselves. Know what you are willing to do/give. Then make sure you say “no” when anyone wants you to give more of yourself than you are willing to give! Saying “no” is hard for a lot of people. But it is so important to stick to your boundaries during stressful times. Don’t let family or close friends guilt you into over-extending yourself. No is a complete sentence.

A Word From Willow

If you are not looking forward to the holidays, you are not alone. Roughly thirty-eight per cent of Americans describe the holidays as “stressful”. The good news is there are ways to curb your stress and make things a little easier on yourself. If the holiday season takes more of a toll on you than you were expecting, and you find yourself feeling depressed or perpetually sad, please contact your mental health provider. The holidays can be a very difficult time for many people, and you are not alone. There are people who understand and can help. Always seek professional assistance when you are feeling depressed or suicidal.

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