At least in part, the holidays serve as a way for us to come together and experience community and family—but for many of us, they also come with tremendous financial and emotional stress. Many people struggle during this time of year to keep and maintain the balance in their lives. We all have expectations of how we’d like the holidays to go, and it can be difficult when things don’t go as planned.

Today, we’ll take a look at 4 helpful strategies you can use to help you cope with holiday stress.

1. Realistic Priorities

Regarding holidays, it’s easy for us to have a picture of how we wish things were in our heads. All too often, reality doesn’t live up to that rosy vision. It can be tempting to see the holidays as an opportunity to reconcile or make amends with family, make big announcements, or address past grievances—but it’s rarely a good time to do so.

Instead of getting caught up in anticipation of what could be, consider creating an achievable to-do list. Think of this as a “holiday survival plan.” Keep it simple. Don’t try to stretch yourself beyond your financial means by going overboard with gifts—and don’t burn yourself out with travel.

Be gentle with yourself this holiday season. Give yourself grace and be realistic about your limitations.

2. Stick to Healthy Routines

As the holiday stresses start to mount, falling out of healthy routines you’ve built up over time may be tempting. Heading into the holiday season, be mindful of the routines that help you to manage stress throughout the year. Stick to your normal bedtime routine, maintain your normal dietary habits, and make room for some exercise.

Unhealthy habits are ways of self-medicating the stress in our lives. Short circuit the temptation to fall back on unhealthy habits by sticking to healthy routines and harmless distractions, like a game on your phone or episodes of a favorite show on Netflix or Hulu.

3. Practice Mindfulness

It’s natural to feel overwhelmed throughout the holidays. When that happens, take a step back and ground yourself using a mindfulness practice. Sometimes, all it takes to bring down your stress levels is a moment of peace and a few deep breaths. Other times, it may be helpful to ground yourself in the present by focusing on sensations throughout your body and recognizing how they make you feel.

4. Engage Your Support Network

  One of the best ways to let go of stress is to give your worries some air. Some people find that journaling helps them release their tension, while others are better served by discussing their problems with a friend. Reaching out to friends outside your immediate family may help you decompress and blow off steam without offending anyone. Scheduling a night out or a lunch date to trade stories may give you the opportunity to laugh about your problems instead of dwelling on them.

Connecting with others allows you to stay engaged with hobbies and interests that might help you relax. Consider a night out, or take a pottery painting class, or look for a comedy show somewhere. If physical activity is more your thing, get away for an afternoon of hiking in the woods. Stress builds up the more you hold it in. Look for healthy ways to put your worries in perspective. No matter how bad the holidays seem, comfy routines await the other end.

Schedule a Consultation

Reach out to schedule an appointment for anxiety treatment if you’re struggling with stress over the holiday season. Having a space to voice your concerns is often all it takes to start feeling better. I would be honored to share that space with you and be that presence in your life.