The holidays are traditionally thought of as a joyous time of year. There are good times with family and friends, beautiful decorations, and lots of delicious food to eat. However, those feelings of joy and happiness are not felt by everyone. The holidays can be a time of great stress for many for reasons such as money woes, fractured family relationships, loneliness, and sadness. If you’re suffering from stress, sadness, depression or anxiety during the holidays, there are some habits you can make and keep that may have a positive impact on your well-being and psyche. Among those are:
- Keep healthy habits:
|Don't let the holidays become a free for all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try not to overeat or overdrink, get plenty of rest, and do some physical activity. Even a brisk 15 minute walk every other day will help you with energy and boost your metabolism. Be aware of how the information culture can produce undue stress and adjust the time you spend reading news and social media as you see fit.
- No is a complete sentence:
Saying yes when you want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can't participate in every project or activity. If it's not possible to say no when your company forces you to stay late to finish a project, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time. Also, don’t feel badly about saying no due to health concerns. Concerns about Covid-19 are a valid reason to skip Betty’s party, and don’t let her convince you it’s not.
- Budget, and ignore the Joneses:
Before you do your shopping, set a firm budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts that come with bills that will cause you stress in the future. And don’t worry about other people’s purchases, decorating, or holiday jaunts. Social media makes this even more difficult as everything is right there, in technicolor. Just remember that what people put online is rarely real life.
- Use your employee benefits and other resources:
Many employers offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that covers mental health services. Check with your benefits department to see what your options are. If you have an insurance plan, it may offer mental health services coverage. If you don’t feel well enough to figure this out on your own, reach out to someone in your company’s HR department for assistance.
- Take a break:
Sometimes when you’re in a stressful situation, it’s better to walk away from it for a few minutes. Some breathing time can give you a new perspective on what’s bothering you. Grab a drink (more about this below), do some stretches or deep breathing, or weather permitting, walk outside.
- Crank up a tune:
A 2013 study found that listening to music reduced the stress levels in participants, and you can feel that same effect when listening to your favorite songs. Whether you favor Taylor Swift or Tool, a great tune can change your whole outlook.
- Drink up (but choose wisely):
According to the NHS, we should all be drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water per day. Drinking water improves your productivity and reduces headaches. Limiting caffeine intake can also help. Caffeine can cause anxiety, restlessness, and trouble sleeping, which aren’t what you need during an anxiety-prone holiday season. Most healthy adults can safely consume up to four cups of brewed coffee, ten cans of cola, or two "energy shot" drinks without having side effects.
- Talk with a friend:
Sometimes commiserating with another person over stress and worry is very helpful. Many people deal with this over the holidays and a friend’s perspective and wisdom can bring great comfort. You can also do this with a counselor, doctor, or trusted coworker.
- Remember that tomorrow is a new day:
If you have a terrible, stressful day, it’s going to be over, and a new day will start. The holidays will also end, but if you are able to implement some of these habits, you’ll have a better new year and happier you because of them.