If every time you hear those upbeat horns and crooning songster announcing that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” you want to crawl into bed and hide until January 2nd, you’re not alone. 31 percent of Americans describe the holidays as “frantic,” and experience a seasonal condition known as “Festive Stress,” a condition the New York Post reveals is very real and very much exacerbating many Americans’ feelings that they are overburdened and over-committed from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.
While it may feel that stress is as ingrained in holiday tradition as Eggnog and paper snowflakes, it doesn’t have to be. The holidays can and should be the most wonderful time of the year—a time to bring families together from different parts of the country (or world), for us all to reflect on the people and things for which we are grateful, and a time to look ahead to a new year. If you’re already trying to plan your Christmas Day exit strategy, read the tips below to learn how to healthily deal with the stress of the holidays, and bring some merry and joy back into the season.
5 Tips to Survive the Holidays and “Festive Stress”
- Be Willing to Say No. Don’t feel that you have to accept every invitation you receive during the holiday season. That goes for Festivus parties that are trying to book up every one of your December Saturdays, as well as Christmas Eve and Christmas Day family obligations. One of the biggest causes of holiday stress is the pressure to be too many places at the same time. Be willing to turn down invitations that you can’t accommodate, without holding onto residual guilt. Prioritizing your mental and physical health is a crucial component of holiday survival.
- Stick to a Spending Budget. For many Americans, the holidays mean financial strain. According to a report by T. Rowe Price, 47 percent of parents use credit cards to pay for holiday gifts, while nine percent use emergency savings and seven percent dip into their retirement accounts. Don’t let advertisers convince you that the way to show love is trough extravagant gift giving. Not everyone is giving diamonds and SUVs to their loved ones during the holiday season. Set a realistic gift-giving budget and stick to it. Your family wants to spend time with you more than they want consumer goods this year. Trust us.
- Make Time for Healthy Habits. As your calendar fills up with parties, shopping, and family obligations, one of the first regular activities we sacrifice are trips to the gym. Don’t bail on your Saturday yoga class, Thursday running club, or morning meditation, no matter how busy your schedule becomes. By participating in regular physical activity, you can mitigate the physical symptoms of stress.
- Go Easy on the Holiday Food Indulgences. One turkey leg packs 417 calories while its frequent counterpart, pecan pie, weighs in at 532 calories a slice. Traditional holiday food is decadent, calorie dense, and loaded with sugar, carbs, and cream. While we may only allow ourselves this one time of the year to indulge, know that if you veer too heavily from your regular eating routine in November and December, you could wind up feeling guilty, stressed, and low-energy.
- Reach Out if You Need Help. For too many Americans, the stress of the holidays stems from feelings of loneliness, rather than an overwhelming list of obligations. If you find yourself feeling depressed, forgotten, lonely, or sad this holiday season, reach out to someone in your life who can offer you emotional support. If you’re not sure who to turn to, consider professional support services. No one is ever truly alone, especially during the holidays.