Although the holiday season is supposed to bring joy and harmony to all, the many expectations that lay behind the seasonal events can cause us to feel overwhelmed. And if you’re in charge of hosting, entertaining and preparing a range of holiday season events, the pressure soon mounts up. If the holiday season has you all tied up in knots, toss the guilt for not keeping up with all the expectations and start taking care of yourself so as to manage that stress and find ways to truly enjoy the holiday season.
Notice the physical signs that you’re suffering from stress. If you’re trying to soldier on in the face of all too much happening at this time of the year, it’s important to recognize the signs so that you’re able to heed them. Some of the physical signs to watch for include:
Exhaustion that can’t be fixed with a night’s proper sleep. This could be result of not enough sleep mounting up over several months and finally hitting you with a whammy. You know that the tasks upon tasks you volunteer for have consequences, but you aren’t able to stop!
Lack of energy. You can’t face the thought of having to make Christmas dinner or buy Hanukkah gifts; decorating for Kwanzaa makes you want to go into a tailspin. All you want is to rest.
Notice the mental signs that you’re suffering from stress. Apart from having absolutely no energy to do things you normally do without batting a lash, you may be feeling irritable, pessimistic, or depressive. These are mental signs you’re coping with too much stress.
Irritability. Everything irritates you, and you don’t know why. Unfortunately, this means you’ve forgotten to see the charm of your life, and you’ve started imagining that work’s getting harder and your kids more demanding, forgetting the joys and only seeing the hassles.
Lack of resilience. Your boss criticizes one small detail in the paper you’ve spent months getting ready in order to free up time for the holiday break. You fall apart, sobbing. She looks at you like you’re from outer space, and you begin to think she’s got a point.
Poor memory. You’ve lost the list of Kris Kringle names somewhere, and you can’t find your Santa costume from last year. Loss of memory might be infuriating but it’s also protective. It’s a suggestion to slow down big time.
Negative feelings. You’re already planning to be disappointed by Christmas dinner or the New Year’s party. Every other year has been a washout, so this one will be too. Oh, why even try? you start to wonder. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Feeling down, feeling the blues or depressed. An inability to shake off the blues is a warning sign that stressors are getting to you. This is one step removed from negative feelings, which will also accompany feeling down but may also involved feeling like giving up or even suicidal thoughts. You need immediate help.
Give yourself a break. This time of year can fluster even the most unflappable. If you’re responsible for the majority of holiday season preparations, you’re under a lot of pressure. Despite the fun moments you sometimes share, it’s likely that you’re overloaded. If you’ve forgotten to take care of your own needs amid this, it’s not surprising that you’re feeling stressed. Some of the things you might benefit from include:
Blocking out several hours every few days for rest. This is you-time and it does not involve flipping through magazines planning Christmas lunch or New Year’s Eve cocktails. This is time to shut your eyes and put your feet up. Do anything other than what’s expected of you.
Treating yourself to a massage or a spa visit. Amid all the chaos, seek some serenity. (Men, you’re allowed to go to the spa, too, although mani/pedis are strictly optional.)
Taking time out to chat with a friend or two. Share your ideas for making it through the holiday season with greater ease. You might even help one another with babysitting arrangements or sharing tasks.
Visit your place of worship or spiritual spot more often than usual. Take time to pray, meditate or sit in a state of silence and peace. Allow the peacefulness to wash over you and remember the spirit of the season.
Restore your sleep. It may be the holiday season but that’s no reason for feeling like you’re a Grand Prix driver minus the fuel. It’s a vicious cycle: the less you sleep, the more sleep you need; the more sleep you need, the less time you have to do what you feel you need to do.
Start going to bed at a time that will ensure 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If things aren’t done, they can be done tomorrow or not at all. Trying to juggle too many responsibilities will eventually crush your optimism as well as your ability to get them done.
Ask your significant other for help. Tap your husband, wife, or partner to help you, so that you can catch more sleep. If you ask them in a kind, loving way, you’re more than likely to be met with eagerness.
Eat well. Don’t devastate your energy levels by starving yourself over the holiday season. Stay away from sugary, fatty and unhealthy snacks that can take the place of healthier food. While it’s fine to indulge on occasion, don’t use the holidays as an excuse to stop eating well.
Changing the way you eat as a reaction to the stress of the holiday season might seem like a way to make you feel better, but this can lead to weight gain. This can cause more stress and hurl you into another vicious cycle.
Eat three healthy meals a day and keep most of your snacks healthy. Focus especially on vegetables and proteins. Indulging occasionally is fine.
Eating less? Some people respond to stress by not eating altogether. This is hard on the body as well, depleting you of much-needed energy. Indeed, you might take in so few calories that you cannot maintain your energy during the day, which is not helpful to your health.