The holidays can be a time of family gatherings and joy, but can also increase feelings of isolation and stressors. It’s important to remember the true meaning behind the holidays: to explore spirituality and thankfulness. Below are a few tips to see the holidays in a positive, low-stress light.
A 2015 Healthline survey reports that 62% of people surveyed feel very or somewhat stressed during the holidays. Common stressors include gift-giving pressure, the pressure to be happy, trying to make the perfect holiday, budgeting stress, and lack of or too much family involvement. There are several ways to work through these stressors:
- Make a point to think positive – Studies have shown the humans remember negative thoughts more than positive ones. During the holidays, it is important to intentionally take time to think positive thoughts and have gratitude.
- Plan ahead – No amount of planning can fully prepare you for the holidays, but it can help. Most holidays come at the same time every year. To truly get ahead with planning, start early and make attainable goals. If you make a budget and make a point to stick to it, some financial stressors might not seem as overbearing. Do not forget to think about the big picture. What do you want out of the holidays? How can you get this done without taking on too much?
- Set realistic expectations – Don’t let the stress of creating the perfect holiday ruin what could have be a perfect holiday. Follow the K.I.S.S. rule: Keep It Simple Sweetheart! If you tend to have political differences or other conflicts with a family member, do not expect change. Try to remember the things you love about the family member and avoid arguments.
- Know it will end – Lastly, do not forget that most holiday stressors end after the holidays are over!
Loneliness & Depression
It is easy to feel disconnected from people during the holidays. It is common for people to experience grief and loneliness during the holidays. To combat these feelings, we have a few suggestions:
- Start a new tradition – Spice your holiday up with a new tradition. You could share this tradition with others or just treat yourself. Some ideas include going to the movies, following the same recipe every year, going ice skating, going to look at holiday lights.
- Give back to others – Though is may seem odd, sometimes giving is better than receiving! Get into the holiday spirit and help someone. This can decrease depression and loneliness while bringing fulfillment to you and purpose to the holiday.
- Friends are family – It is hard to watch all of the family ads during the holidays and not have expectations of peaceful family gatherings. This is not that case for many people. Sometimes family is nontraditional and that’s okay. Try meeting up with friends during the holidays to increase your holiday spirits!
- Meet new people – Many religious and non-religious organizations have gatherings during the holidays. One way to feel connected with people is to be around new ones! Try developing new relationships so maybe you can have a friend holiday the next year!
- See a professional – If your loneliness or depression is not situational or you are having severe difficulties, consider seeing a therapist or visit a doctor.