Dealing with Stress Through the HolidaysPC: Danielle Haynes
The most wonderful time of the year: Thanksgiving, Christmas and new years. This time of year is supposed to be full of cheer and holiday spirit, but for many of us the pressure of the holidays can be just plain stressful.
While some of us may be stressed about finding the perfect gifts, the financial cost of the holidays or hosting family while trying to get along, others are grieving the loss of someone close and their grief is exacerbated by the absence of their loved one throughout the holidays.
Many experience loneliness this time of year and it is only made more apparent by the season’s festivities. For many people it’s the loneliest time of the year.
I must admit I’ve always loved the holidays, the Christmas lights, the good food, and an excuse to eat cookies and watch Tim Allen’s The Santa Clause.
I am certainly not a Grinch. If anything I’m more like Buddy the Elf.
Although this year I find myself stressed out about the holiday season with very little cheer to be found. Sure I’ve decorated my tree and drank hot cocoa in hopes it would get me in the Christmas spirit, but the pressure of the holidays has been weighing on me.
So I’ve come up with some ways to get back into the holiday spirit and find out how we can alleviate some of the mounting pressure and anxiety that this season tends to bring, and instead get back to enjoying the holiday season.

Here’s a few ways that I have been bringing back the magic of the season and getting rid of the stress.

Acknowledge What You’re Experiencing

 Stress, anxiety, and grief are all normal, healthy human emotions. Trying to run from them, suppress them or dare I say wallow in them is not healthy.
Whether it’s grief, anxiety, loneliness, or whatever your experience is. Remember you are not alone. A LOT of other people share in your heartache. You’re allowed to be hurt if you’ve lost someone or don’t have anyone to share the holidays with. This is a common human experience.
Remind yourself that you’re allowed to just survive the holidays. Surviving doesn’t mean you have to be miserable, you can still find moments of joy while pushing through to the new year.  

Take Some Time Off Social Media

I know it may seem like social media doesn’t really have an effect on us, but it truly does. 
I know we would like to believe we are unaffected by social media. But Study after study proves how social media increases our cortisol levels (the stress hormone), which is not going to help us during a season of already heightened anxiety.

Now is not the time to compare your life to those perfect feeds on Instagram or be bombarded by ads that make you want to buy more random gifts.

Rest and Relax

We sometimes forget what God made winter for REST.
The holiday season is perfect for rest. Let yourself take a break from the news and avoid information fatigue. I’ve chosen to take a quick break from Instagram and even my blog during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Allow yourself time to rest, nourish your body with sleep and lots of fluids and comfort foods. Get cozy with a blanket on the couch and throw on your favorite Christmas movie or even CSI Miami whatever – floats your boat.

Just take in the season for what it is: a time to rest, be with family & to catch up on missed episodes of your favorite show.
Accept that the holidays won’t be perfect (and that’s not a bad thing). You may not receive or give the perfect gifts, the cookies might come from a box, and that’s okay.

You can release the pressure to be perfect. Nobody gets every gift right, and sometimes we have to prioritize a warm shower and some self care over homemade cut out cookies. Holidays are not meant to be picture perfect or movie worthy.

Being with family and eating nourishing food is good enough.

It’s not your responsibility to make it special for everyone, even if you’re a mom. Just being there for your family is enough. You’re allowed to just experience the holidays without any grand expectations.

Embrace Traditions

Taking the time to engage in holiday traditions without controlling every aspect of how it happens may be the key to actually enjoying the season. Take a moment to go see the light shows with some loved ones, or even by yourself.
Spend some time picking out ornaments or buy yourself some dessert and sit down to watch a classic Christmas movie, like A Christmas Story or Scrooged.

Take it slow, and keep it simple.
My grandma mentioned last year that it’s hard to get into the holiday spirit until the tree is up. Although many of you, I’m sure, have already done this, decorate your tree, and let the soft glow of the lights add some warmth to your home this holiday season.
By keeping alive a few simple traditions like making a snowman and putting up the tree, you and your loved ones will be able to establish some fond memories.

Get Outside

I know this last piece of advice can sound cliché, but it’s become cliché for a good reason: it works! Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean we should shut ourselves away from the world. We need to get out of the house even more this time of year!
Go take a walk through the snowy park, or forest (just be sure to be safe & wear proper gear). Take a drive to a local coffee shop and sit and do your work peacefully while still being in the presence of other humans, especially if you’re alone this Christmas season. Breathe in the fresh crisp air and allow yourself to be a part of the season instead of trying to escape it.
After the last few years that we have all had, having some sense of normalcy can help us to feel more at peace. If you have had a hard year, that’s okay, many of us are right there with you.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope you all can find some peace and joy throughout the winter season, and I will see you back here come new years.
Take care, Danielle