Dealing with Holiday Stress

Published by Mary Switala on

Although the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people struggle during the holiday season when expectations are high and disrupted routines can feel overwhelming. 

This is especially true during this year and the 2020 holiday season with the additional stress of the COVID 19 pandemic. 

Some good news……some mental preparations and planning can help everyone cope with the season — and even enjoy it!!!

Below are a few ideas on how to practice self-care during this holiday season.

Self-care. Pay special attention to your eating, sleeping, and downtime. It might be OK to skimp on a few hours of sleep just before a relaxing weekend, but think again if that weekend will include the stress of traveling, visiting or other activities out of your normal routine. Don’t forget to factor in downtime, too. Planning every hour of your time off can seem like a great idea, until you realize there is no time left to unwind.

Fun, not perfection. Resist the urge to do everything you can to make the season perfect for everyone. Just enjoy the time as best as you can and don’t expect it to be perfect.

Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don’t put the entire focus on just one day Remember that it’s a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.

Anticipate stress. Plan ahead of time what your strategy will be when times get stressful. Maybe take a walk outside for 15 minutes when a family gathering gets stressful? How about a trip to your favorite store if your schedule gets you down?

  • Regularly schedule time to engage in self-care activities. Schedule self-care activities (exercise, meditation, a hobby you enjoy) at the same time each day so they become routine or set a timer or alarm to remind yourself.
  • Practice gratitude for the people and events in your life. This might include writing in a journal about what you appreciate in your life, or letting others know the gratitude you feel.
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some your time to help others
  • Be aware of excessive drinking. This will only increase your feelings of stress.
  • Being present around the presents. Practice mindfulness and meditation. This can include spending a minute or two being present in your environment. Take notice of the smells, sounds, and sights of the holidays. Notice the differences between the holiday season and other times of the year. Mindfulness techniques can be more than quiet contemplation.

Mary Switala

Mary Switala

Mary Switala, NPP is a Board Certified Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specializing in medication management. She has been working with psychiatric patients for the past 8 years and focuses on using a holistic and integrative approach to diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.