How to Manage Stress During the Holidays

BY SANDRA GUY

Finally. It’s time to celebrate the first return-to-near-normal holiday season for most of us since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

While we still must take precautions and wear our masks outside of our bubbles — and get our flu shots plus a COVID booster shot — we at least can feel free enough to travel.

But if no one in your circle of friends or family has gotten the COVID vaccination and you cannot attend their get-together, acknowledge your feelings.

It’s OK to cry or scream in frustration — but if you feel overwhelmed, seek professional help right away.

Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out community, religious or other social events or communities. Many may have websites, online support groups, social media sites or virtual events. They can offer support and companionship.

If you’re feeling stress during the holidays, it also may help to talk to a friend or family member about your concerns. Try reaching out with a text, a call or a video chat.

Volunteering your time or doing something to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits. Consider dropping off a meal and dessert at a friend’s home during the holidays.

Work to keep things in perspective. Set realistic goals and don’t heighten the drama.Try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to your expectations. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion.

If your mother always criticizes your appearance or your brother always makes rude jokes, don’t expect them to change their habits; just aim to have a sense of humor about it and remind yourself what you love about them.

And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

Stick to a budget. Before you do your gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget.

Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If you must accept a work assignment, take something else off of your schedule.

Don’t abandon healthy habits. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt.

Try these suggestions:

  • Have a healthy snack before holiday meals so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Include regular physical activity in your daily routine.
  • Try deep-breathing exercises, meditation or yoga.

Surround Yourself with Friends. Friends make for happy holidays, too. Whether you’re unable to travel (or have family who is), or for some other reason, celebrating with dear friends who uplift and care for each other is a gift unto itself.

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