As much as I love the Holidays it can be a stressful and overwhelming time of year. This year I’m more stressed than usual and going into the Holiday season I can feel that stress rising.
No matter how much we would like it to be otherwise the holidays can be stressful. This holiday stress can affect our emotions and mental health. So since I’m guessing other people feel this way here are10 ways to improve your mental health during the Holidays and how to deal with the holiday stress that comes up.
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How to begin dealing with Holiday Stress?
1 Schedule time for you
During the holidays you are probably busy going going going and your to-do list is a million miles long. The thing not on your to-do list most often though is you. If you let yourself become too busy and overwhelmed you won’t be able to enjoy the holidays and this special time with your family.
Self-care and taking time for yourself is important all year long and I’m a huge believer in caring for yourself if you want to have more to give to others. Don’t let the business of the season make you put yourself even further down your list.
It doesn’t have to be a lot of time. Wake up a little earlier and while you have your morning coffee, do something you enjoy, spend time on social media, read a couple chapters of a book, watch an episode of your favorite comedy. Just take this half hour to focus on yourself.
2 Stop comparing yourself
We all know those Pinterest moms, those moms who have the perfect meals planned out and plated, that have the clean and clutter free home that is always company ready. Maybe that is you and if it awesome and know that I’m envious of you.
If that is not you and you know that you are not ready for company to drop by at any moment, that you won’t be able to take pictures on Instagram of perfect Holiday parties, recipies and crafts that you are doing during the season. That’s ok though.
You are doing what you can and as long as you and your family are happy, healthy, and together then you are succeeding. To be honest your kids don’t care if you are a picture-perfect mom they just want to spend time with you and be happy.
This is also true when it comes to how much you spend during the holidays. You don’t have to spend as much as other people you know are spending and that’s ok.
Just try to eliminate some of that holiday stress by focusing on the experiences you can afford and not what anyone else is doing.
3 Don’t set unrealistic expectations on others
The holidays are usually spent with others, which can set us up for being let down. We may expect a certain person to attend an event that they miss, someone to bring a dish that they forget, or a certain present that doesn’t get bought. Let go of your expectations for the year.
Allow things to just happen and don’t put pressure on others to make everything “perfect”. It’s also important to remember if you are dealing with holiday depression that other people are not going to be able to “fix” you. Don’t think that everything would just be better if so-and-so did this or that. Remember, that no one else is going to be able to make you feel better when you are depressed.
4 Set boundaries on your time
You only have so many hours in your days, there is not an unlimited amount of time ever but this is even more true during the Holidays. There always seems to be more that we want to do than is possible to fit into our schedules.
So how can we combat this overabundance in our schedule? Well first start by using your schedule to track everything you need to do and making sure that you can fit them all in.
Then you need to make sure to not have more on your schedule than you have time for. To do this you are going to have to set boundaries on your time.
This means learning how to say no to things you don’t really want to do or just don’t have the time or energy for.
Learning to say no doesn’t come easily to everyone and I know that some of you will struggle with this more than others.
Remember though that by saying yes to things you don’t really want to do you are limiting the time you have for the things you do want to do.
5 Ask for help
If you find yourself in a situation that feels overwhelming or too hard for you to manage alone this will greatly raise your level of holiday stress. The simple solution to this problem is to ask someone for help.
More often than not we don’t think people will want to help us or we are embarrassed to ask for help but neither of those reasons are usually factual. Most often people do want to help you they just need to be asked. Also everyone needs help from time to time so try not to feel embarassment in not being able to do it all.
With there being so many little things to do during the holiday season it’s just not realistic to think you can do it all yourself. So get your spouse or kids to pitch in a little. If you are staying with family make a schedule of who does what when. You don’t need to do it all they will only make you feel stressed out and overwhelmed and that is not the way to spend your holiday.
6 set boundaries on your budget
If you are struggling with how to handle holiday stress and you don’t know how to start making it better. Take a look at your spending. Money stress can impact our emotions and mental health all year long. The money around the holidays can increase that stress.
Some years you will be able to spend more on the holidays and some years may be tighter and you will need to watch your spending and budget for the holidays better. It’s perfectly fine to simplify your Christmas and not do as much because you are not able to afford it.
There are also plenty of fun family activities you can do that are either free or at least inexpensive. Here are some inexpensive family fun for Winter. During Christmas we do a few things each year that are fun and don’t cost much.
Holiday activities on a budget
1 Watching Holiday movies
2. taking a drive to look at Christmas lights and decorations,
3 decorating a gingerbread house(we usually get a kit for like $10-15 from the Grocery store
4 making sugar cookies and decorating them
5 Playing board games ( Here are some of our favorite board games.)
6. Go sledding
7. decorate your Christmas tree and home
8 Do a Christmas craft. Here are some great Christmas DIY projects
7 Try to avoid conflict as much as you can
There are a couple of ways to save your sanity at family gatherings because unfortunately when a lot of families get together there are often stress and conflict.
If you know there are going to be conflicts, prepare a neutral response, such as, “Let’s talk about that another time,” or, “I can see how you would feel that way.”
Then escape to the restroom, offer to help in the kitchen, or go hang out with the kids. And it always helps to call a good friend if you need a sympathetic ear.
It can be frustrating to bite your tongue when you want to deal with difficult or stressful people in your life. I have found though that a party or family gathering is the worst time to hash out problems or deal with conflict.
So put off these conversations and issues until another time if you can and just enjoy being around your loved ones as much as possible.
Instead, focus on the good people in your life. The holidays can be immensely stressful if you don’t see eye-to-eye with your family members and yet end up spending large amounts of time with them (especially if you’re all staying under one roof).
If this scenario is stressful for you, it’s extra important to think about the people and things that don’t stress you out during this time. “That’s where we should put our energy,” “Let things be less than ideal. Let them feel a little broken,” However, make it a point to intentionally focus on people in your life who “lift you up.”
8 Get enough Sleep
Holiday activities easily can interfere with your sleep schedule. But studies have shown there is a link between sleep loss and depression, so you need to be extra careful about cutting back on sleep to get everything done.
Try to get to bed and wake up at approximately the same time every day; avoid large meals and physical activity such as dancing within a few hours of bedtime, and make your bedroom a sleep sanctuary. To make your room optimal for sleeping keep it dark, cool the best temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Limit TV and electronics. This will help your body develop a routine for sleeping. I struggle with falling asleep and find that if I watch anything stimulating or exciting before bed it’s harder to fall asleep so if I watch tv at night I try to make it lighthearted or funny only. If you do use your phone at night in bed turn it on night mode. This will make it less bright and stimulating on your brain.
9 Start a simple Morning Routine to feel less stressed
Setting up morning routines are a great way to maximize your time and start your day on the right foot.
First ask yourself the question. What is a realistic time for you to get up? I get it some of us are not morning people so what is the right time for you so that you’ve gotten enough sleep.
When do you need to leave in the morning? You need to know what your window of time in the morning is. From when you get up to when you need to be ready to go. Is it an hour, two hours, less?
Start small. Don’t make your morning routine so complicated that you can’t stick with it.
Set up a few small tasks to do each morning to prepare you for the day ahead and get you in the right mind frame especially during the holidays. This is a great time to spend a little time doing something you enjoy.
Take the time to drink a glass of water, staying hydrated will improve your health and give you energy, eat something for breakfast, look over the day’s to-do list,
How to get help for Holiday Anxiety or depression?
Now sometimes holiday stress can actually be more severe and actually be holiday anxiety and depression. If that’s the case you may need more help to get through this struggle.
If you’re dealing with any type of depression, including holiday depression, there’s treatment available to help you through your struggle.
Just because dealing with depression isn’t something that you go through on a normal basis, it doesn’t mean that you need to suffer silently through the holidays just waiting to start feeling better when it’s over.
Depression can be complicated. You never really know when it’s going to just go away. That’s why it’s best to learn what you can do to address that when you’re starting to struggle. The tips included here can help, but it’s also a great idea to talk with a therapist. They can help you pinpoint if your depression is coming from a specific event in your life and they can also help you learn additional strategies and tips to deal with your depression.
Sometimes just being able to talk with someone outside of your family and friends about what you’re going through can be healing and itself. Look for a local therapist in your area, or you can find an online therapist through companies like BetterHelp. This will allow you to get the help that you need in dealing with your holiday depression.
My wish for all of you is to have a great holiday season and to enjoy it as much as you possibly can. I hope these steps help you combat some of your holiday stress.