The holiday season brings with it nostalgia and a festive spirit for many. However, along with these joyful feelings can come anxiety and stress. For many, the holidays can increase levels of stress and anxiety that may already be hard to manage. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), 38% of Americans report an increase in stress during the holidays. And on the flip side, only 8% reported feeling more happiness during this time of year.
The number one cause of stress during the holidays has been found to be financial stress. Following close behind are having a packed schedule and trying to find that ‘perfect’ gift. While the holidays occur just once a year, this stress can be excruciating and not only cause the holidays to be stressful but also wreak havoc on one’s physical and mental health. However, the good news is that there are ways to manage anxiety and stress during the holidays. And, with some motivation and planning, find ways to prevent it from occurring next year.
Here are five tips for reducing stress and anxiety during the holiday season:
1. Lean into healthy coping strategies
We all have different ways to cope with stress. And while your schedule may be getting full during the holidays it’s vital to not only keep up with coping strategies but also to increase them as the stress builds.
Exercise is one great way to help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety almost immediately. In fact, according to The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), regular aerobic exercise helps to decrease overall tension and stress as well as improve mood. If you already exercise, keep it up! If you don’t, consider adding simple walks to your day. In fact, the ADAA also reports that just 10 minutes of walking can relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression as much as a 45- minute workout. It’s easy to get a 10-minute walk each day and your brain and body will love you for it.
In addition to exercise, other coping and stress reduction skills should be increased during this often stressful time of year. From getting out into nature and meditation to eating more fruits and veggies and getting plenty of rest, these coping skills can help you to navigate the holiday season with ease and grace.
2. Get extra support
One of the most challenging things for many people to do is ask for help. However, asking for help is also one of the bravest things you can do. During this potentially stressful time of year, consider getting extra support. This could mean asking for family members to pitch in with chores more or it could mean seeking outside help and support. If you have a counselor, you may want to see if you can increase your sessions. If you don’t have a counselor, consider getting one. There are some online counseling services that offer appointments in the same week.
If you are in recovery from an alcohol or substance use disorder (AUD or SUD) you may want to attend more support group meetings. There are numerous 12-Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Celebrate Recovery, and Refuge Recovery offering both in-person and online meetings. AA and NA have meeting spaces or clubhouses that run meetings around the clock on the holidays. You can find meetings in real-time by visiting this AA Intergroup meeting link. When you go to this site, you’ll see meetings happening online within 30 minutes of when you are on the site.
3. Talk to a trusted friend
According to a Healthline survey, 44% of respondents said they are ‘stressed out’ during the holidays with another 18% reporting they are ‘very stressed’. Reaching out and connecting (or reconnecting) with a good friend or family member can really help. Not only does connecting with others help to alleviate the feelings of loneliness and stress, but it can also help to put things into perspective. Sometimes we go round and round in our heads recounting all the stress and all the things going wrong and all that we have to do. Talking to someone about it can actually help to lessen these stressful feelings and emotions. In addition, it can help your friend out too.
In fact, according to research not only do social connections help to reduce stress and anxiety but they also can improve health and reduce mortality risks. If you have some good friends that’s great, if you don’t there are apps you can use (similar to dating apps) that help connect you with like-minded individuals also looking for friendship. Learn more about these sites in our blog ***
Our society has created an overindulge desire in almost all we do. Our kids have to be the best in their sport, take the highest level classes, and be the best in all they do. Many feel they have to have the most luxurious or biggest car or house. The list goes on. It seems as Americans want and get more and more levels of peace of mind and happiness decrease. This year, consider simplifying things. Talk to your family and loved ones and let them know that you have made a conscious decision to cut down on all things. This can include anything you like, anything that will help to reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays and throughout the year.
5. Live within your means
Closely related to simplifying your life is living within your means. Another telltale sign of American spending is racking up large debts on multiple credit cards. This, in itself, can increase a person’s stress. Take a look at your income, expenses, and debt. Then take a look at if you are living within your means or building up debt (and stress) in an attempt to ‘keep up with the Joneses. Many times we continue to plow ahead despite how much stress our way of life is causing us. This year, take some time to look at what you have, what you want, and how much stress it may be adding to you. This year, make ‘less is more’ your motto.
While some of these suggestions may invoke stress even just to consider, it’s okay. The change may be uncomfortable for a time but in the long run, you may be able to significantly reduce your stress and anxiety during the holidays and throughout the year. The holidays are meant to be a happy, joyful time of year, but for many they just aren’t. Take the steps you can to reduce your stress and anxiety during the holidays and see what happens.
If you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, depression, a mood disorder, or an addiction that is contributing to your anxiety and stress, Futures Recovery Healthcare can help. We offer three different addiction treatment programs as well as a mental health program. Call us today at 866-804-2098 or contact an admissions counselor online.