5 Holiday Stressors to Skip This Year
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
From shopping and gift wrapping to cooking elaborate meals, over-packed schedules, elves on shelves, travel and spending time with relatives, the holidays can be downright stressful.
Here are 5 Holiday Stressors to Skip This Year to keep you feeling "merry and bright":
Neglecting Self Care
Over-indulging in food and alcohol, over-spending and jam packed holiday schedules have unfortunately become our cultural norm. This in combination with the stress and expectations of the season can leave us feeling pretty depleted with symptoms like sleep disturbance, fatigue, irritability, digestive issues, headaches and reduced immunity.
One of the most important things we can do to combat this is to prioritize our physical and mental health during the holidays. Stay hydrated, keep a consistent bed time as much as possible, build in down-time for rest and naps and move your body. Enjoy your favorite holiday foods and beverages. There's no need to deprive yourself, but know and honor your limits.
If you were to ask me what one thing to prioritize to minimize collateral damage to both physical and mental health during the holidays, my response would be to reduce sugar intake. Read about the wide-reaching impacts of too much sugar on our systems here. Health and wellness expert JJ Virgin refers to the time between Halloween and New Year's as "high sugar impact season". You can find her tips on reducing sugar impact through the holidays here.
Lastly, be sure to carve out time for self-care. Self-care doesn't have to be elaborate or time-consuming. In fact, it can be done in 5-minutes or less and still provide a benefit. Need ideas? Try my 30-days of 5-min. self-care calendar here.
Keeping Outdated Traditions
Earlier this week, I polled my Instagram followers about their top holiday stressors. Keeping up with outdated holiday traditions, specifically gift giving, topped the list! The concept of presence vs. presents (quality time with loved ones over material things) is popping up more and more these days, and I have to say I'm here for it!
While many holiday traditions can feel mandatory, make the decision to participate a conscious and intentional one. I hereby give you permission to "opt out" of whatever no longer serves you. If thinking about participating makes you feel expansive and excited, then full steam ahead, but if you're groaning at the thought of it or it drums up a sense of dread, decide to create a new tradition, or just stop participating in the old one altogether. If you're worried about disappointing or letting others down, this next section is for you.
Not Saying No
Keeping with outdated traditions or agreeing to holiday obligations you don't enjoy for the sake of not disappointing others will only leave you feeling cranky, resentful and disappointed yourself. This resentment may unintentionally spill into your interactions with the people you are working so hard to not disappoint in the first place.
Remember you and only you are responsible for what you commit and agree to and for making the holiday season what you want it to be. Don't wait for others, including spouses or partners, to pick up on cues or meet your unstated needs. State what you want and don't want directly and respectfully. Suggest alternatives when needed. Remember you don't owe others a detailed explanation around your choices, and sometimes "no" is a complete sentence.
Navigating relationships is all about boundaries and the holidays are no exception. Anticipate what might come up for you and make a plan for how you'll respond. Psychotherapist and "Boundary Boss" Terri Cole has a great holiday boundary resource toolkit to help with this. You can find it here.
According to Deloitte's 2022 holiday retail survey, Americans are expected to spend (on average) $1455 each this season. In our culture it can be easy to get caught up in equating the value of the gift we give someone to the value we place on the relationship. However, friends and family who truly care about our well-being would not want us to go into debt for the sake of holiday spending. When looking at and thinking about our health holistically, financial health should be included. Make a budget, stick to it and/or find non-gift ways to share the season with loved ones.
Whether we're consciously aware of them or not, the holidays are loaded with expectations. Finding the perfect gifts, hosting amazing and fun holiday parties and meals, getting to see or spend time with certain people and having enough time to do all of the holiday activities we want are just a few examples. Unconscious and unmet expectations can leave us feeling disappointed or even a bit blue or depressed during the holiday season but not entirely sure why. If you're feeling this way, take a few minutes to think about what expectations might be at play here for you. Next, take some time to reflect on what's important by writing down the 2-3 things you want to prioritize this season, and then make a plan to make them happen. Remember it's up to you to communicate what you want and/or to bring those things to life. Ask for support if you need it, but don't wait or leave it up to someone else to do it for you. If you don't get to do these things during the holidays for whatever reason, plan them in the new year!
Which of these holiday stressors do you need to skip this year?