Avoiding Holiday Stress and Anxiety

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function | Monday, December 31, 2012 - 11:05 AM

avoiding holiday stress and anxietyThe holidays should be a time to relax and enjoy family and friends but unfortunately many people experience stress, anxiety and depression during the holiday season.

Sources of Holiday Stress, Anxiety and Depression

There are many reasons why people experience stress and anxiety around the holiday season, including:

Too many commitments – agreeing to attend every holiday event that you’re invited to may leave you feeling overwhelmed and can create unwanted stress and anxiety.

Too much to do – whether it’s wrapping presents or baking cookies for the cookie exchange, having too many tasks to do around the holidays can create un-needed stress and anxiety

Finances – let’s face it, you may feel the need to find the perfect gift for every person on your list, but this may leave you strapped for cash which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety over your bank account.

Lowered immune system – with all of the running around that you do during the holidays, you’re likely to get run down and all of the stress can leave your immune system lacking.  This will leave you more susceptible to colds and the flu.  Dealing with family gatherings when you’re sick can create even more stress and anxiety because you’re feeling lousy.

Other Reasons Why Stress and Anxiety Runs High

  • Reflecting on the past year – looking back over the last year and reminiscing about events that have taken place over the past year, such as going through a divorce, losing a job or losing a loved one can cause depression, especially around the holidays.
  • Your childhood – being around family and friends during the holidays can make you reflect back on your childhood.  If your memories are negative this can create depression around the holidays when you’re surrounded by family.
  • Lack of family and friends – if you’re alone during the holidays, this can lead to depression as you watch everyone else enjoy time with their loved ones.

Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress and Anxiety

The best way to deal with the stress and anxiety about the holidays is to try and avoid it in the first place.  There are a number of things that you can do to help steer clear of stress and anxiety around the holidays, including:

Have realistic expectations – your family may annoy you and tensions may rise around the holidays.  Don’t go into the holiday season expecting that your family gatherings will be perfect. Learn to accept and appreciate your loved ones.  Deal with potential conflicts with family members at less hectic times of the year.

Learn how to say “NO” – it may seem simple, but learning how to say “no” can be difficult for many people.  Choose your gatherings wisely so that you don’t get overwhelmed with all of the activities around the holiday season.  This will help to minimize stress and anxiety around this busy time of year.

Stick to a budget – if your bank account is causing your holiday stress, stick to a budget; this will help to ease your mind over holiday spending.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle – the holidays are a time when excessive eating and drinking are considered the norm, but if you want to keep your mental health in check, sticking to a healthy diet and drinking in moderation will help.  Also, continuing your regular exercise routine will help to prevent the holiday stress and anxiety from taking control of your life.

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Take some “me” time – around the holidays you may feel the need to please everyone around you, but remember to pencil in some time for yourself.  Having a relaxing bath, or go treat yourself to a spa day.  This will help to prevent the holidays from negatively impacting your mental health.

  • Make a list – plan your shopping, wrapping and baking days ahead of time which will help you to manage your time, easing the stress and anxiety that all of these tasks can cause.
  • If you’re lonely, reach out – there are often community events that you can attend if you’re feeling lonely during the holidays.  Check out local churches and community centers for events that you can participate in around the holidays.
  • Speak to a professional – if you’re overwhelmed with feelings of stress, anxiety and depression and you’re not able to get them under control, it may be time to speak to a counsellor or psychologist to learn how to cope with your mental health concerns.

Enjoying Holidays Despite Stress and Anxiety

Remember, the holidays are a time that you should enjoy.  Use the tips and tricks mentioned above to avoid having a holiday meltdown and to enjoy all that the holiday season has to offer.


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