The many joys of the holiday season—giving (and receiving) gifts, cheery decorations and sharing time with those you care about—always come with some level of stress. For some, loads of added stress.
There are worries over busting your spending budget at the mall; traveling itineraries, possibly with costly air travel involved; or perhaps hosting a holiday gathering with a house full of relatives who don’t always get along.
Several things can help you cope with stress during the holidays:
- Temper expectations. Forget about the perfect gift, the perfect meal, the perfect celebration, the perfect family. Accept imperfections—yours and those of others.
- Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your needs and feelings. Participate in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Be mindful of your diet, exercise (spending time outdoors when weather permits), and get plenty of sleep.
- Stick to a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and stay with it. Running up charge cards can trigger feelings of guilt later.
- Make connections. Visit friends. Accept support from those who care about you.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress.
- Don’t automatically participate in family traditions or activities if they are particularly stressful solely because that’s just what you have always done—consider alternatives.
If you feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist or other mental health professional. Here are some resources:
- The Board of Behavioral Sciences has links to consumer resources, including how to find a licensed mental health professional in your community.
- The California Board of Psychology has links to mental health resources.
- The California Department of Mental Health has links to a variety of resources for mental health services.