The festive season is finally upon us, promising a month of joy and celebration. But while good times lay ahead, so do impending stress and anxiety. From the financial constraints that will inevitably come into play during gift giving and when planning meals and get togethers, to having to put up with family and friends who will congregate for seasonal revelry, stressors will arise in various severities. But it doesn't have to be so.
Here are a few ways you can enjoy a stress-free holiday season.
Focus on the essence of the season. What are holidays all about? They are about family, friends like family, togetherness, love and joy. None of these have to come at the expensive of your mental health. The root to alleviating stress in these instances is to be realistic about your expectations. Know what you can and can't do. Set clear sighted goals. Remember that although there may be a few things you will need to get done, at the end of the day, what matters is being close to your loved ones and enjoying togetherness.
Don’t forget yourself. It’s very easy to neglect yourself when you are constantly worrying about what you need to do for others. The act of selflessness should not come at the expense of your wellbeing. You can plan the best gifts and surprises for others, organize elaborate meals and parties, get your house in order, but you need to be at the top of your priority list. Take a day or at least a few hours for yourself. Unwind. Take a bubble bath. Read. Watch TV. Simply do whatever makes you happy. The more you focus on yourself, the better you will feel mentally, physically and emotionally. And you being at the top of your game means not only will you have a great time, but so will everyone else. So do make an effort to put some time aside for yourself, so that you will be both healthy and happy this holiday season.
Get a headstart. This may be a little too late now, but it’s an important habit to live by. You don’t have to wait until it’s time for christmas - or even other special occasions, for that matter. Starting early means you can rest assured of a stress free experience. Shopping for yourself on a random day? Keep an eye out for gifts for your near and dear. This way, not only will you end up finding a gift that is well and truly thoughtful, but you will also bypass the issues of hurtling through malls last minute trying to find gifts, finally resorting to overpriced gifts without any sentimental value or worth. Make sure to also be proactive and wrap gifts as you buy them. Wrapping can be time consuming, especially when done last minute, taking up time better utilised doing something else.
Utilise checklists. Checklists are lifesavers. Not only do they help you stay on top of things, but they also help you stay organised while you’re at it. Say goodbye to forgotten chores and missing ingredients! Many apps now exist for keeping tabs on things, so get one so you have your checklist on you at all times. Make sure you maintain this checklist throughout, so it can be used every year and be updated as required.
Reach out. The holiday season is stressful for anyone. Even the most resilient people often come undone because of the growing pressures of juggling jobs/family life with festive season duties. Be kind to yourself and delegate tasks to family and friends. Enlist the help of your spouse and/or kids to wrap gifts. Allow invitees to bring along dishes or desserts. The season is meant to be fun for everyone, and that includes you.
Count your blessings. Sometimes it helps if you take a minute to sit down and think about all the good things that have happened to you and your family. Appreciate the strong bonds you share, your good health. At the end of the day, it’s the little things especially that count.
Be cognizant of the signs. Despite all the pre-planning, you may find your sleeping habits and eating habits change, you may feel irritable, moody and unhappy, you might feel exhausted and fatigued. You may even sense an oncoming panic attack. In this case, visit a physician or your mental health expert so they may help you cope.