It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of year but for many, the holiday season is anything but joyful.
And it’s not hard to see why.
From the monetary pressures of gift-buying and travel to the unwelcome scrooge of family drama, this time of year can feel less like a celebration and more like a test of survival.
If you’re one of the many whose mood isn’t quite merry around the holidays, you’re not alone. A 2015 U.S. study showed 62% of respondents reported feeling at least some degree of seasonal stress with nearly half of people surveyed citing “finances” as the main source of their anxiety.
Knowing these less-than-cheerful feelings are perfectly common, the question is how to cope with them. Here are just some of my go-to tips for managing holiday stress:
1. Acknowledge Your Feelings: This may sound simple but recognizing your feelings as valid and legitimate is proactive to making it through the holidays with a healthy attitude. Hold yourself with compassion in the face of difficult emotions and remember that it’s okay to feel exactly as you’re feeling right now.
2. Set Boundaries: This can apply to everything from finances to family and will help you approach the holidays in a way that’s comfortable for you. Some examples include:
3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate: Taking on all the shopping, decorating, cooking and hosting is a recipe for stress. Offload some responsibility, ask for help and try not to worry if things aren’t done perfectly. Remember, it’s your holiday too!
4. Get Grounded: It’s easy to get caught-up in the holiday madness. Reconnect to what matters by participating in activities that feel grounding, healthy and/or personally rewarding, for example: exercising, reading, volunteering or simply spending time with close friends. Let serenity be the gift you give yourself this year.
The festive season can be a time of extreme highs and lows. If you’re someone who feels particularly anxious at this time of year, consider the above strategies to help ease your stress and reach out to a professional if you need additional support.
Wishing you peace and fulfillment this holiday season.
Lindsay Ross, MSW RSW, is a clinical social worker in private practice in Toronto, Ontario.