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Try these 10 tips to handle your holiday stress

Try these 10 tips to handle your holiday stress

If you’re struggling to receive tidings of comfort and joy this holiday season, you’re not alone. The holidays can be a jolly time of year, full of family, friends and delicious food. Yet, for many people, they are also a time of immense stress. Whether you’re feuding with family members, worried about money or struggling to find the time to do everything, holidays can bring up hard, complicated emotions. LCMC Health has helpful tips that make it easier to manage holiday stress.

1. Just say no

You may feel the pressure to attend every event or to do every task your family requests, but it’s okay to say no. Too many responsibilities can send your brain into overdrive, creating even more stress. So, give yourself permission to stay home, and skip all but the most important holiday parties. Don’t cook the extra side dish. Take a pass on the cookie swap this year. If it’s stressing you out, you’ll feel better if you save time for yourself.

2. Stick to a budget

Money is a constant stressor for many of us at any time of year. Setting a budget for your gifts, decorations and travel is a good way to lower stress. Sticking to that budget will prevent future stress, no matter how tempting the sales are.

3. Go for a walk

Did you know Christmastime is associated with the highest rate of heart attacks? Research suggests the increase may be connected to higher rates of stress. Getting outside in the sunshine and exercising daily is a great way to boost your mood and lower stress.

4. Indulge a little, but not a lot

There’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine here and a cup of eggnog there, but overdoing your holiday imbibing won’t make you feel better the next morning. In fact, heavy alcohol use can increase anxiety, making you feel even more stressed. Holiday cookies come but once a year, so don’t force yourself to abstain from your faves. Remember: Eating a healthy diet as much as possible will help you feel better.

5. Adjust your expectations

Life is not a Hallmark movie. If you stop pining for the “perfect” holiday dinner or photo shoot or shopping excursion, and celebrate the “real” ones in spite of any imperfections, you are much more likely to have fun and make happy memories.

6. Be thankful for what you have

It can be hard to feel grateful if your holiday season or your life isn’t going as planned. Literally counting your blessings daily can help remind you what good things you do have in your life. A gratitude practice is a known stress reliever, and it may help get you into the holiday spirit.

7. Go to bed early

Insufficient sleep is a trigger for many mental health issues. It can also just make you feel grouchy and out of sorts. Getting enough sleep will help you feel better equipped to tackle your to-do list.

8. Help someone else

Whether you’re volunteering at a homeless shelter or helping an elderly neighbor, being of service to others is one of the best ways to get out of your own head. It is the season for giving, after all.

9. Just breathe

When you feel stressed or overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing and take several deep breaths. This simple act can help reset your nervous system and bring feelings of calm back to your body.

10. Talk to a professional

Not every problem can be solved by a listicle! Some issues require professional help. Combined stress and depression or seasonal affective disorder could make your holidays hard to bear. Making an appointment with an LCMC behavioral health professional could be the best Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa gift you ever get yourself.

If the holiday stress is seriously bringing you down, LCMC Health’s behavioral health team can help. Learn more about our services and find a location near you.