How to Take the Stress Out of the Holiday Season!

Written By: Dr. Gloria Lee, Registered Psychologist

As you are prepping for the holiday season, some of you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the hustle and bustle of this month. You’re busy buying and wrapping gifts, baking cookies, attending office parties, showing up for your kids’ Christmas concert, putting up Christmas decorations, volunteering for a toy drive, attending a church service, hosting and entertaining, and cooking up a storm.

With so many festivities, albeit wonderful, you still can feel stressed running around and stacking your days with things to do. Think about how out of the ordinary it is to have so many activities within a one-month period.

Often, it could feel like you’re going through the motions, but forget why you are doing this in the first place. When you feel pressured to keep up with certain traditions or attend every event, it can take a toll on your mental health and well-being.

So, it’s important for you to pause and make space for yourself during this month. Here are some tips to help make your holiday season more meaningful and less stressful.

     1. Remember why you celebrate in the first place. For some, it’s about being together with loved ones and remembering how much we appreciate them. For others, it’s about observing a religious tradition and recalling what this season represents. Yet for others, it’s a time to relax and celebrate. When you pause to remember why you are doing this in the first place, you will feel more present in the moment and grateful for the activity at hand.

     2. Take time to rest, have fun, and do something not holiday related. Your mind and body need to recharge like a battery. It can’t keep running on empty. When you take time for self-care and do things that are more “routine”, you will have more to give during this busy season.

     3. Plan ahead. Ensure you only book as little or as many gatherings as you are comfortable with. You can provide your availability to people, so they can choose from your given dates. Don’t book more than what you have capacity for, even if they are fun activities. You can’t do it all.

     4. Combine gatherings, if possible. This will help reduce the number of gatherings you have to attend. You can book groups of friends or family together for one gathering rather than having separate gatherings with each party. Or better yet, combine two festivities together (e.g., go watch Christmas lights at the park with a group of friends).

     5. Set healthy boundaries. Give yourself permission to say “no” to certain traditions or gatherings without feeling guilty. Only say “yes” to events that you want to attend and “no” to events you have to attend, especially if your attendance is inconsequential. If saying “no” does not seem like an option (e.g., family gathering or work event), then set a time limit on how long you will be there for and keep this commitment.

May your holiday be restful and meaningful. Our team at Brentwood Counselling Centre looks forward to serving you in the new year!

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