There is no getting around the fact that this is a crazy time of year. While summer can be hectic with the kids home from school there is nothing quite like the endless parade of holiday’s that show up when they go back. Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day it can start to feel like the world just got a little bit too busy a little bit too quickly. Dealing with holiday stress can be a challenge for all of us!
Don’t get me wrong – I love the holidays! I love the cheerful fun decorations, the spirit surrounding them and the time with family. The holidays are a great excuse for me to stretch my creative wings, try new crafts and recipes and experience the wonder and magic of the season through the eyes of my children. But I think its important that we all recognize that sometimes we might not be as cheerful and happy as the movies, songs and decorations tell us we should be and sometimes those around us might truly be suffering.
Dealing With Holiday Stress during this Crazy Time of Year
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Society really loves to tell us that this is supposed to be a happy time of year. We are supposed to sing carols, deck our halls and dance in the New Year. Of course, this is fun and most of us have moments where we truly are joyful and happy. However, there is a good bit of pressure out there which can make us feel like we have to feel like this all the time. Society seems to forget about the behind the scenes struggle that most of us go through and which can sometimes be compounded at this time of year.
Causes of Holiday Stress
Holiday stress can have a variety of causes including, but not limited too
- Financial – let’s face it, holidays are expensive. When you’re already living paycheck to paycheck trying to fit in everything you need for the holiday’s, including costumes, gifts, and food it can get stressful quickly.
- Social – If you’re already nervous about social situations or having to spend time in large crowds then the holidays can be a real challenge. Between family gatherings, pressure from friends and co-workers and the added crowds at the store, the holidays can be one big bucket of stress
- Personal – The truth of the matter is, bad things happen. Maybe this is your first Christmas without a loved one or maybe a relationship you had for a long time just ended. Maybe you’re just going through a really rough patch in life. When life gives you lemons it can be especially hard when society tries to tell you that you’re supposed to be happy. Even worse, sometimes it can make you feel like asking for help would be infringing on the happiness of those around you. We should never feel guilty for feeling the way we do but that’s easier said than done, especially during this time of year.
- Just the Time of Year in General – It’s no secret that the shorter darker days prey on people. Seasonal Depression can be hard-hitting and terrible to deal with.
A Few Ways to Help when Dealing with Holiday Stress
Although we have talked about ways to deal with stress in a healthy manner in the past dealing with holiday stress seems to be an entirely different animal and requires some different ideas. Though some of the previous ideas might still help!
I don’t know about you but I always feel a lot better when I have a plan. This seems to work especially well for Christmas. While it doesn’t work every year (some years things just come up!) I find that budgeting to save a specific amount before the holiday season really takes a good bit of the stress off of our family. A tracker in your Bullet Journal or Planner works wonderfully for this! It doesn’t have to be much, even $20 a paycheck will add up by the end of the year! Even if I only manage a couple of hundred that’s still fewer gifts that I have to stress over and struggle to get!
Of course, some people are just terrible at saving money. It’s really easy to dip into savings with the intent of paying it back later on. If this is a problem you might consider buying the actual gifts and then stashing them away (hopefully in a place you won’t forget!). This way you won’t be tempted to spend your savings but you’ll still be preparing for Christmas.
Either way, knowing that you have that part of Christmas covered or mostly covered is bound to have you breathing a sigh of relief instead of panicking last minute.
Set a Social Calendar and Stick to it
You don’t have to go to every party, get together or family gathering. If you want to pick a specific holiday and just stay home. That’s okay. It’s perfectly fine to tell people that you’re just going to spend New Years, Thanksgiving or even Christmas Eve relaxing at home.
Pick a couple of events that are important to you or that you will enjoy and just forgo the rest. It’s your holiday season too and if you would rather sit at home with Netflix or take a bubble bath with a good book then do it. Odds are your friends and co-workers will understand. Some of them will probably be envious and wish they had done the same thing!
Take time out for Yourself
Much like the idea above it’s perfectly okay to make sure you have a bit of downtime in your schedule. Sometimes we all need an extra bit of love and sometimes the best way to get them is to give it to ourselves. Plan something that will make you happy to make dealing with holiday stress a little bit easier. A day of crafting, a movie you love to watch every year or maybe those holiday cookies you love to make.
It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it makes you happy while you do it. Sit down with a cup of coffee and watch the sunset. Binge watch that T.V show you’ve fallen behind on! Just because its the holidays doesn’t mean you should forget about all your own self-care. And let’s face it if your anything like me – its really easy to push aside self-care in favor of doing things for others. No matter how detrimental that can end up being in the long run.
Consider Shopping Online
Every year I start to think -this is it, this is the year my husband is going to stroke out in the middle of Walmart. There is something about the holidays that seems to make everyone in the store turn into crazy people. If you work in retail then you probably know what I mean. People fight, complain and try to crowd into aisles that were created for a fraction of the carts trying to shove into them. It can be nuts and the longer in the season you put it off the worse it gets (Pre-shopping sounds even nicer now!)
But! In today’s world, you can do all your shopping without stepping foot in that mess. Hello, online shopping! Christmas and Halloween have never been easier! Odds are you can 1) Find better deals and 2) A better selection without even leaving your house! Most shops offer sales that are just as good and shipping that is either free or cheap enough to make avoiding the brick and mortar store completely worthwhile. Bonus – the packages often show up in nebulous brown boxes which makes hiding the gifts as simple a sticking said box in the closet. No more trying to hide things in the cart or trying to find babysitters for your kids so you can shop without them seeing everything.
If you look around you can even find beautifully personalized gifts from online stores and support smaller business too!
Don’t be Afraid to ask for Help!
Sometime’s, no matter what we do we just need to talk to someone. Dealing with holiday stress at this time of year can be hard on everyone, even couples! Therapists, such as the professionals at Ray of Hope Counseling Services can be a lifeline at this time of year. And, the services they offer, such as couples, family and individual therapy are created to suit the needs of everyone. The help they offer can really make the difference.
Some Georgia therapists, including Ray of Hope Counseling Services, offer equine therapy. I don’t know about you but spending some time with horses is a sure fire way to make my life better. Looking back I can certainly see the benefits that working with horses had on me as a youth. According to Ray of Hope Counseling Services working with horses provides a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and others while gaining self-confidence which can help you deal with intimidating and challenging life situations.
Of course, if you are not an animal person or find yourself too intimidated to seek help at a physical location the option for online counseling is also available!
Dealing with Holiday Stress – The Bottom Line
No matter what you chose and how you choose to do it, please do, reach out if you feel the need too! Dealing with holiday stress on your own can be difficult but help is available and measures can be taken to make it a little bit less so!