Don’t Let the Holidays Get You Down

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The cookies. The decorating. The shopping. The parties. The cards. And all the wrapping! It sounds so fun at first then the stress kicks in. It doesn’t take long for that to-do list to get overwhelming.

Remind Yourself of What the Holidays are Really About

But, the truth is you don’t have to do it all. Cut yourself some slack and remember what the holiday season is really about – spending time with family; focusing on the good in life. That meaning can get lost in all the hustle and bustle and lead to one stressed out, miserable person.

Nine Tips to Help Minimize Holiday Stress

  1. Be mindful of the things going on around you – your children smiling and laughing; spending time with family you haven’t seen in a while.
  2. Not everything has to be elaborate – pick a few items on your list and decide to either not do them at all (who needs all those cookies anyway?), or do them but allow yourself to not give them as much time as years past (make one kind of cookie instead of five). Don’t squeeze in more holiday than you can handle.
  3. It’s ok to say “no” – its ok to turn down that party invitation or ask another family member to host the holiday celebrations.
  4. Take some time for yourself – the whole month of December does not need to be about making sure everyone else has the perfect holiday, make sure you take care of you. Instead of addressing cards one night, read a book, take a bath, or go to bed early.
  5. Stay physically active – all those baked goods and hearty foods can weigh down on you; making sure you continue to move helps to keep you feeling good about yourself and increases feel-good hormones.
  6. Consider switching up old holiday traditions – for those that find themselves grieving for lost loved ones or life transitions during this time, changing up old ways can help make holidays more bearable.
  7. Delegate – ask a spouse, child, or sibling to take care of some of the details weighing on you.
  8. Think positive – it can be easy to let worries take over, try to replace them with positive thoughts. It’s ok to lighten up. (If Aunt Jane causes a scene at dinner again at least it might provide some entertainment.)
  9. Do something nice for the less fortunate – we spend so much time preparing the perfect holiday for our families that we forget some families don’t have much of a holiday at all. Volunteering or encouraging the kids to finally donate all the toys in the basement will make you feel good and help others.

Whatever holiday stress you may be combating, remember this too will pass and try to squeeze in as much laughter as possible. After all no one is perfect, and nothing needs to be perfect.

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Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC

Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: alison@moveforwardlancaster.com.