During the holidays it’s easy to get caught up in all the extra activities and the spirit of the Season.  But it is also the time of year that some people struggle the most.

There are several ways to help you combat the stress associated with the holidays.

 Acknowledge how you are feeling. 

If you are missing someone who has passed away or is no longer in your life it is okay to take time for yourself to reflect and allow those feelings to be valid.  Crying is OK.  There is no rule that says you must force yourself to be happy because it is the holiday season.

 

Talk to someone.

If you are feeling that stress is taking hold of your emotions during the holidays, it might be helpful to talk to a friend or family member about your feelings.  If you don’t feel that you can speak about these things, texting is a good way to communicate without having to voice your issue.   There are also many support groups, social media sites or virtual activities that can offer support.  You can devote your free time to volunteering to help others in some way during the holidays.  Maybe just taking a meal to someone who is unable to get out of their home.  Perhaps you can collect items for those less fortunate.

 

Put aside your differences.

Family can be a big part of the stress you feel during the holidays.  Try to accept them as they are.  It is not always possible to agree on everything, so it is important to remember that you don’t have to discuss those things that cause tension during the holidays. You can agree to talk about them at a time when all your family is not present.  Remember other people can be going through depression and stress as well.  Be mindful of the fact that each of your family members can also be struggling to control their emotions.

 

Stick to your planned budget.  

Money can be a significant trigger during the holidays.  The saying goes “It is the thought that counts.”  So, take time to think about what gift would mean something personally.  Buying expensive gifts may not be an option but giving something from the heart will be far more valuable.   Showing that you have taken the time to think about that person and their feelings is a great idea. Homemade gifts could be a great way to express your feelings to someone.  The most important thing is to not blow your budget buying a mountain of gifts.

 

Learn to say no

When you say yes even though you don’t feel up to something it can make your stress level increase dramatically.   Saying NO is having respect for yourself.  Perhaps you just don’t have the time or energy to fit into your already busy schedule.  People will understand if you tell them you cannot help with a specific activity or cannot devote your time every time, they want you there.

 

Maintain healthy habits and eating.

Avoiding the things can change your habits can help like eating healthy snacks so that you don’t fill up on sugary treats.   Limit excess caffeine and alcohol to help maintain your normal routine.  Taking a walk during stressful times can help you to regulate your breathing and focus your attention away from the situation.  Getting adequate sleep is important as well.

 

Take a time out for yourself.

Even 15 minutes away from distractions can help you to focus on the Joy and Peace of the season.   Attend a church service that can help to remind you of the reason for the season. Refrain from spending too much time watching or reading news which can not only over-stimulate your mind but can also cause your stress level to increase dramatically.  Seeking professional help should be an option when nothing else seems to lower your stress level.  Don’t be afraid to say “I am struggling and want to talk to someone”

Taking control of the Holidays can help you to prevent the depression and stress that can sneak up on you.  Learn to identify the things that cause you to be stressed like the pressure to spend more money than you budgeted or demands from family and friends.  It is important to recognize these triggers before you are headed down the path to a meltdown.  Using positive thinking can help you to maintain joy and peace during the holidays.