Is Holiday Stress Real?

The holiday season can be one of the most joyous times of the year. Festive decorations, gifting, renewed connections with friends and family, and a chance to reflect on the year behind and the year to come. All around you there are reminders of the season, the Christmas tree lots, travel, schedule changes, and a barrage of retail advertising.

There are also plenty of reasons to be stressed. Obligations, office parties, and keeping up with family traditions, spending money, and worrying about how it will all work out.  Holiday stress is very real and can have a huge impact on how you experience and feel the holiday season. If you’re prone to stress, have had depression in the past, or are fighting clinical depression now, this can be a tough time if you don’t take control.  In a study by the American Psychological Association, fully eighty percent of Americans anticipated stress during the holiday season.  Another study suggests a whopping 69 percent attribute their stress to money related concerns.

Five ways to fight holiday stress

  1. Hang out with happy people. Try to surround yourself with people you think of as happy.  Participate in conversations and express your gratitude that they are around you. Mirror the positive thoughts, feelings and expressions in your conversation. Happiness is contagious and is a great stress-buster.
  2. Roll with it. It’s all about attitude. Think about the holidays as a time to focus on the good parts of the season and don’t get bogged down by the bad parts.  Things only get to you if you let them.
  3. Think before you eat. Don’t deny yourself the holiday cupcakes, or the tasty, holiday dinners. This stuff comes just once a year. Just think about portion size and your plan to burn the calories before you eat. Balance the sweets with healthy foods you like. Think of the holidays as an opportunity to “eat differently” rather than “pig out”. Don’t have a ton of invitations to sample holiday foods? Cook up some cookies yourself – just don’t eat ’em all at once!
  4. Go outside and play.  Sunshine makes a difference in your moods and attitudes. Getting OUT of the house, even for a short walk or bicycle ride, a hike in the woods or on the beach, or even a trip to Starbucks will make you feel better. Exercise, even a LITTLE exercise is a effective stress buster. Spend some outside time EVERY DAY, and it it’s cold or rainy, get some exercise inside your home.  That sunshine and exercise will do you a world of good and reduce your stress a lot!
  5. Get a massage.  If you’re reading this, you probably already know that massage is a great way to get rid of stress.  Massage also helps with your circulation, reduces stiffness, improves joint flexibility, and releases healthy hormones that make you feel better. One massage every couple of weeks will have a significant impact on how you manage stress during the season.  Your friends and family will notice.  You will be more relaxed and can handle the stress more easily. This is a win-win for you!

If you’re feeling generous, try a couple’s massage with your partner, spouse, or BFF and you’ll get the benefits of massage yourself and a great feeling of experiencing relief from pain, soreness, aches and stress alongside someone important to you.

So TAKE CONTROL of that very real holiday stress and do something about it this year. You’ll find that these steps toward wellness will leave you happier and healthier when the season is over, too!

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