How To Manage Holiday Season Stress

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This post was made in partnership with Depend® brand. All opinions are my own.

It gets stressful during the holidays, but there are ways to manage. Here are some helpful tips to curb the biggest causes of stress.

A stressed woman with her fingers at her temples

How To Manage Holiday Season Stress

The holiday season is one of the busiest times of the year. With marketing crazes pushing you to spend money, gift lists, recipe hunting, and all of the festivities, it’s no wonder the holiday season can cause holiday stress.

This is supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” but the pressure to attend events, give gifts, and make holiday plans with family can overwhelm you – and with good reason. Most people have a lot on their plates already, so as much as one may be excited about the holidays, there are also additional chores and expectations. 

Don’t fear, though! There are ways to manage the stress of the holidays. Be kind to yourself, take some advice, and hopefully you’ll find your way through with a lot of beautiful memories and a lot less difficulty than you may have seen in the past.  

Set Clear Limits

This is something that you can do any time of year. Being proactive will help to deter the stress. Do not say yes to everything and overschedule yourself. The more you concede, the more will be asked of you, so straighten up and find the word “no.” 

Planning a video chat, a phone call, or a written greeting on social media with those loved ones you will have a tough time seeing in person is a great way to deal with your lack of time and energy. Whether that is because of family conflict or distance, this is a source of stress that can be managed in a few minutes from your own home. 

We all want to help where we can, but one person can only do so much. You can only be at so many holiday gatherings, cook so much good food, and buy so many presents. Look at your limits and be honest about them. It is a good thing when you find new ways to take care of yourself. And when you are honest with yourself, you can find ways to gently be honest with those around you as well. 

Acknowledge Your Feelings

It is okay to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. That is completely natural and it happens to most people at one time or another. The key to managing it is to acknowledge how you’re feeling.

Whether you manage seasonal affective disorder, have feelings of loneliness while missing previous years, or feel like you have a lot of expectations weighing on you, it is always a good time to acknowledge the stress of the season. A lot of this is not about you, it is about the impact of the additional stress. 

When you have feelings of sadness or extra pressure sneaking into your psyche, take a break. Give your mind and body a minute to relax. Tell yourself that this is overwhelming, it is normal to experience these feelings, and that everything is going to be okay.

Allow yourself a little time to take some deep breaths. It may sound goofy, but it will help. Giving yourself permission to take a short “decompression break” is usually enough to help you regroup and keep plugging forward. 

Embrace Shortcuts

We all have high goals and expectations placed on us during the holiday season. Actually, we often expect more from ourselves than anyone else is expecting. That being the case, see what you can do to lighten the load.  

Consider taking a break from overdoing it this year. Do you really have to mail holiday cards to 100 people? What about putting together a warm email with a photo of your family and sharing it digitally instead? That would keep you from spending time and postage.

Do you spend all day (or week?) cooking your perfect holiday meal? Maybe you can ask each attendee to bring a different side dish and/or dessert. Embrace the shortcuts that you can find to make your life a little easier. 

Make a Calendar

Creating a calendar for the holiday season can be invaluable. When you know what is expected of you and when, it’s much easier to prioritize what has to be done at any given time.

Use this calendar to list all of your holiday parties, priorities, responsibilities, family traditions, and family gatherings so that you can keep track of tasks during this stressful time. It will both help you feel like you don’t have to do everything at once and keep you from overscheduling. If you’re booked, you’re booked!

This list can be a social calendar as well as anything else you want to include in order to keep yourself in check. If you have higher stress levels when it comes to holiday shopping because you have a hard time not spending, include some limits in the calendar. Leave all but one of your credit cards at home on this day (note it in the calendar!) so that spending too much money is something you’ve already thought through. These little notes will help you in the long run.

Thanksgiving Dinner Table

Know Your Body

Stress has a huge impact on our bodies. If you can help to keep yourself calm by breathing and scheduling your tasks, your days should be a bit easier leading up to the holidays. But what about the holiday functions themselves? 

During holiday celebration days, many of us have to cook, dress up, travel, spend hours at a social event at someone else’s house, drive all the way home, and then do it again. Some of us even have multiple social obligations to attend during the same day.

Because of this, it is extremely important to know your body. When you struggle with incontinence, you need to know when and where you will have access to a bathroom. Whether this is at someone’s house or on the road, make sure that you have a plan. Look for public bathrooms that you can count on to be available during holidays and bring extra Depend® FIT-FLEX® Underwear. They are discreet and you won’t have to worry about leaks. If you know that incontinence won’t get in the way of your celebrations, you will have a much more joyous time with family and close friends. 

Avoid Negativity

We all have those family members that we just don’t gel with. They’re fine in small doses, but for those longer events, it can be a challenge to be in their company. Do your best to avoid the negativity and the family problems that this brings, if at all possible. 

Just because you have to be in the same space as someone you don’t get along with doesn’t mean that you have to socialize with them extensively. Do your best to be polite, but try to position yourself next to others at the table or actively engage with those you are closest to if you need a distraction. 

The negative energy that is created in stressful situations like these is enough to ruin your holiday and stress you out for the rest of the season, so be mindful of what you need in order to care for yourself. If limiting the time you spend with this person is the solution for getting through, do what you can to arrive late (just go for dessert), leave early (having young children or other commitments is the best excuse), or create other plans altogether. 

Practice Meditation

In addition to the other tips to manage stress, consider trying some meditation. If you have never meditated before, it doesn’t have to be what you’ve seen in the movies. Meditation is just taking a bit of time to do some deep breathing, clearing of your thoughts, and attempting to quiet the brain. You can do this in the quiet or with your favorite music playing. 

Practicing meditation either between or during difficult situations can make a huge difference in your stress level. When you force yourself to take your mind out of the stress, you give your body, mind and soul some quality time to release. 

The truth is, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is full of stressors that can leave you feeling completely drained. That will never change on its own, so it is up to you to find ways to help yourself. Remember that your mental health matters. Take care of yourself and work toward having a stress-free holiday season instead of letting it overwhelm you. 

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