" It's the hap-happiest time of the year." according to singer Andy Williams, but what do we do when it is not?
For some, holiday time comes with added stress and hassles, not joy and good cheer. So here are a few tips to help you manage your spirits when they are not feeling to merry or bright.
1. Take extra time for self-care. The holidays often bring lots of new sensory experiences that may be good or bad, and your brain and body may need a little extra time to adapt or relax. Errands that may have been quick may require a little more planning and thought when you add winter weather and holiday shoppers into the mix. Home and public setting have extra lights, sounds, smells, and people. Recognizing what things make you feel good about the holidays and which things drain you energy can help you make choices that keep you feeling balanced and in control.
2. Remember your values and how they relate to the season. Social media ( and the media in general) flood us with images of happy bustling homes and beautiful Normal Rockwell images, but the truth is that someone or a group of people worked together to make that picture happen, and it was just a snap shot of that day. Not everything needs to be flawless. Think about what this holiday and season mean for you personally and allow yourself the same courtesy and flexibility you would give to a friend. Your best try is good enough.
3. Set boundaries. Set boundaries for what you can and cannot do and stick with it. This applies to many areas:
I. Financial boundaries of sticking to a budget that you can afford. Choosing to go beyond your means can mean borrowing emotional and physical energy from the upcoming months of dealing with financial stress caused by over spending.
II. Emotional boundaries of choosing not to talk about certain topics or accept criticism from unhelpful relatives. Setting aside differences or grievances until a more appropriate time presents itself and having an assertive phrase or two in mind for touchy subjects can lower the chance of losing control of your emotions in a already stressful time.
III. Physical boundaries of keeping with regular diet and exercise routines to help prevent stress from bottling up.
IV. Mental boundaries of being realistic of what you can do. Allow flexibility with some traditions that may be outgrown or unrealistic, it is okay to celebrate in a different way or on a different day if the current tradition may be impossible/too overwhelming.
4. Take a breather. It is okay to need to step away for a minute or two to give yourself a brain break. Using a short breathing exercise, calming meditation, looking at some happy pictures on your phone, playing with a fidget or stress putty, or using a grounding or mindfulness activity can help you keep yourself in check.
5. Remember it is okay to seek help when you need it. Talking to supportive friends, family, or even a professional can help you keep control of your stress.
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