Stress Management in the Holiday Season

Try to keep to your routineAn image of Joshua McKeever

While some routine changes are unavoidable during the holidays, sometimes changes in routine can lead to additional stress. Try to exercise/eat/sleep at your usual times, go to meetings that you normally go to, and stick to your health goals.

Think moderation…

While it may be easy to drink and eat too much at parties and special dinners, we should try not to overindulge with food and/or alcohol. This page has some suggestions for how to avoid overeating during the holidays.

…But throw guilt out the window

Try not to put unreasonable pressure on yourself to eat or stick to health goals “perfectly,” be happy, or even to enjoy the holidays- be honest, kind, and gentle with yourself and allow yourself to feel the full spectrum of emotions if you need to (including sadness, loneliness, and grief)- this is normal during this time of year, even if it’s not talked about much. Try not to overthink it and let yourself indulge in some things (it is the holidays, after all!); do what you can to stay healthy but don’t dwell on guilty feelings.

That old chestnut…

There’s something about being with family and old friends that makes us become who we were and not who we are. When you find yourself reverting to old childhood patterns with family members, try to walk away for a minute and remember who you are now. Also remember that it’s not necessary to play the same role as you did when you were younger, even if others are encouraging you to do so by their behaviors. If there is someone at the get-together who knows what you are like today, make sure to reach out to them and draw them into the interactions. That will help to ground you.

Ask for help and practice saying “no”

Holidays are often a time people attempt to take on too much on their own. It’s okay to ask for help from family and friends. Whether for decorating, shopping, cooking, or a shoulder to lean on, ASK. It’s also okay to say “no” to others when you’re asked to do more than you can. It’s fine to say no to some invitations and fine to say no to those asking for favors. Remember, this is your holiday too! If a request seems like too much, allow yourself to politely decline, and, if you can, offer what parts of the request you can help with.

Be good to yourself

If you’re feeling blue, pamper yourself. Do what feels good, and what you want to do. Try to take a walk or spend time alone, if that’s what you want. Remember, this is your holiday too, and you can be there for yourself just like you try to be for everyone else (yes, I’m talking to you- we all work in healthcare!).

Have a peaceful holiday season!

Your TCHC Behavioral Health Team