Important Things You Need To Know About: Managing Holiday Stress

Important Things You Need To Know About:
Managing Holiday Stress
By Alex Lorimer-Carlin, EPC Student Intern

This month, we’re going to focus in on an important topic; managing holiday stress. Stress can cause us some problems around the holidays, be it spending time with difficult family members, not feeling like there is enough time to get everything done, or worrying if everyone around us is having a good time. It can make us cranky, tired, and lead to feelings of fatigue and unhappiness. Here are some tips on how to make it through the holidays with a minimal amount of stress and negativity, read on!
1.   Physical Exercise. With daylight savings having just turned over, and cold winter weather settling in around us, we’re more drawn to the comforts of our homes, wanting to avoid the outside world. And who can blame us! But, physical activity is very important for mental well-being; two to three times a week of 30 minute walks each can help to reduce anxiety, depression, and negative mood, while improving our self-esteem and overall cognitive functions, not to mention soaking up some sun while you’re at it. So bundle up, and hit the road!
2.   Take a Break. Feeling overwhelmed with things happening around you? Lots of activity in the kitchen, maybe some shouting children from the other room? Explain to those around you that you need a moment to yourself, and then take fifteen (15) minutes to recharge (or longer, if needed). You’re no good to those around us if you’re burnt out and grumpy, so you have to make sure the batteries are kept in good charge.
3.   Don’t be afraid to say “No.” Give yourself permission to set limits and say ‘no’ to get-togethers, friends and family events, out-dated traditions that take more time and energy than each gives back to you. It may disappoint some loved ones to hear “no” to coming to dinner. They are allowed to be disappointed, they didn’t get what they wanted this time. However, you taking time for your self and keeping your energy will not disappoint you. You are a priority among other priorities. Most people will understand.
4.   Say ‘Yes’ when needed. For those of us that are alone during the holidays or tend to isolate, the holidays can be long and lonely. Reach out to friends, loved ones, colleagues, and plan some get-togethers over the holidays to ensure your have a restful and connected season.
5.   Do less, enjoy more. We’re surrounded by seemingly endless to-do lists come holiday time. This year, parse that list down to what you feel is important to you to further reduce stress. If you feel it’s important to do an activity (like hanging lights outside), then do it! But if you don’t feel a resonance within you when you think of the activity, will it really serve a purpose to do it? If you have more time to do the activities that are meaningful to you, you’ll enjoy them more.
6.   Honour your feelings. The holidays can pressure you to feel happy constantly, and cheerful to those around us, even if they’re hard on you or you don’t feel that way. Do not bottle your feelings up and ‘tough it’ through the holidays. Honour how you feel by making space to express and experience your feelings; maybe a night to yourself doing a favourite activity, talk to a trusted friend, or doing something creative.
The holidays can bring great joy and be hard for each of us in different ways. By taking care of yourself, you will feel energized and be able to enjoy the pleasures of the holidays.

From all of us here at Evolution Psychology Center,
have a wonderful holiday season!

1. Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 8 (2), 106.