Do not underestimate holiday stress.
Although Halloween and Trick-or-Treat paid a visit in October, most people do not overly stress about a holiday that asks for one day of celebration and leaves a trail of happily-exhausted children in its wake. Now November, on the other hand, is a different story. Lists for Santa find their way to penny-strapped parents. Expectations of homemade deliciousness like Grandma made fall upon shoulders. The desire to create moments worth remembering take hold, while remembering those who no longer sit at the Thanksgiving table tear at hearts. November is, without a doubt, the start of the holiday triple crown: Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.
What to Expect When You’re Holidaying
Begin holiday purchases.
Squeaky-clean your house and decorate galore.
Plan an out-of-this-world feast.
Resurrect your Christmas card list.
Stress about your self-inflicted stress.
Count those pennies. Move that cash. Charge that card.
Yep, it’s holiday time.
What’s crazy, though, is this isn’t how it has to be. No law says your holiday season must run a specific course. There’s no indicator that there is one best way to throw a party and make memories. Take a breath, and let yourself off the hook this holiday season. Serve lasagna for Thanksgiving dinner if you have no idea or interest in cooking a turkey. Pick up carry-out so you can skip washing all those dishes, and go for a walk with your family when dinner concludes. Take time to sit with your family and time to talk. Remember the ‘reason for the season,’ as it’s commonly and cleverly said.
Whether you plan to prepare a five-course holiday feast or feel hours of cooking and baking are wastes of time isn’t the argument. There is no argument at all, which is the point. You often create your best memories when your stress is low, and your happiness is high. Don’t worry about traditions; make your own traditions.
As Christine Hammond, a leading mental health influencer, author, and guest speaker, points out, “For many, the stress of the holidays is overwhelming. The anticipation of family gatherings alone can create anxious, tense, and uncomfortable responses. Then there are the personal expectations of gift-giving, the lack of appropriate boundaries of friends, and the increased tension of an end-of-the-year work cycle.”
Strategies to Minimize Stress
So what should one do to shine their shield and prepare to battle the holiday stress? Because it’s not enough to simply say, “don’t stress.”
Healthline recommends the following note-worthy strategies to relieve stress and anxiety:
- Exercise: “lowers your body’s stress hormones,” can “improve your sleep quality,” and you “may feel competent and confident in your body, which in turn promotes well-being”
- Consider supplements: look for supplements that “promote stress and anxiety reduction,” such as EMPowerplus Advanced and Inositol
- Light a candle: also known as aromatherapy; certain scents have a calming effect (lavender, rose, Roman chamomile, Frankincense, orange blossom, to name a few)
- Reduce your caffeine intake: “high quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety”
- Write it down: record what you’re stressed about or in reverse, record what you’re grateful for
- Learn to say no: take control of the parts of your life that you can control and decrease how overwhelmed you feel by decreasing your obligations
- Learn to avoid procrastination: “get in the habit of making a to-do list organized by priority;” procrastination can lead to scrambling and heightened stress
- Listen to soothing music: “slow-paced instrumental music can induce the relaxation response by helping lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as stress hormones”
- Spend time with your pet: “having a pet may help reduce stress and improve your mood”
Did you know the word holiday is defined as “a day of festivity or recreation when no work is done?” That’s right; the definition says, “no work.” Perhaps the best way to honor Thanksgiving and the holiday season, in general, is to give our mind and our stress a little less work to do.
Author: Evelyn Lindell
Certified Health & Wellness Coach