Find your joy and reduce stress this holiday season
Thursday, December 5, 2019
Contributor: Beth Clay, Executive Director, N.E.W. Mental Health Connection
Welcome to the holiday season — that whirlwind time of gift-giving, pie baking, card writing, office parties, family get-togethers, decorating, and activities galore. While this season is meant to bring love and cheer, it also causes stress for many.
Stress triggers include:
- Doing too much: Too many activities, even if they are fun, can leave us feeling frazzled and not fulfilled.
- Eating, drinking, and spending: The temptation to overindulge in desserts, alcohol, or spending can cause the lasting stress of dealing with consequences
(e.g. debt, weight gain, etc.) that can linger long after the season is over.
- Too much togetherness AND not enough togetherness: Even the most
close-knit families can overdose on togetherness, making it difficult to maintain a healthy balance between bonding and alone time. Loneliness can also set in for those who don’t have family.
- Seasonal shift: Our mood is negatively affected as the days get shorter, snowier, and cloudier, and we find ourselves retreating indoors.
- Happiness trap/Unrealistic expectations: When we try too hard to be happy, we make ourselves miserable and feel trapped by seeking “perfection.”
Tips to reduce holiday stress:
- Reset your priorities: Pick a few favorite activities and really enjoy them.
- Take shortcuts: Cut corners or tone down the activities that are important to you and your family (for instance, buy a pie instead of baking it), so you can enjoy more free time.
- Be realistic: Don’t expect perfection or try to make it “just like last year.”
- Take a breather: Stop to take a few deep, cleansing breaths during the busy times.
- Do a check-up from the neck up: Despite your best efforts, you might feel sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, or unable to face routine demands. If these feelings persist, consider taking this anonymous, online mental health screening to see if talking to your doctor or a mental health professional is what you need to turn things around.
Don't let the holidays become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prevent the stress and depression that can occur during the holidays. Learn to recognize your triggers so you can combat them to find peace and joy during the holidays.
Northeast Wisconsin (N.E.W.) Mental Health Connection exists to create dialogue that leads to greater collaboration and improved mental health services in the community. Do you need a mental health provider or want to research your symptoms or treatment options? Visit www.MyConnectionNEW.org (a partnership of the N.E.W. Mental Health Connection and United Way 2-1-1)