How to Turn Holiday Stress into Holiday Cheer

If you are experiencing holiday stress, you are not alone! We cannot always predict when negative stress might present itself. The good thing is that holiday stress is very predictable. In other words, you have a timeframe and know when the season starts and when it ends.

The one word that comes to mind is “overwhelmed” which is something a lot of people feel during the
holiday season. There are ways to help reduce this type of stress if you will make plans ahead of time
and stay on course.

The first item of importance is prioritize your plans and activities. Ask yourself what is really important
during this season. If it is something you can do without, by all means skip it.

  • Make a list: Making a list can actually reduce your stress. Putting your plans down on paper will give you a feeling of accomplishment when you mark off what has been done.
  • Think of a new fun activity: Think of something fun to do that involves your whole family. Play games or have a sing along. The kids will love this! The most important thing is focus on fun and laughter.
  • Use sacks instead of wrapping paper: The actual wrapping of gifts might be a tradition, but if it causes stress, you can always use sacks or decorated boxes. Try using a box inside another box and make them work for it! Get lots of colorful tissue paper and confetti and make the sacks fun.
  • Order from your local bakery: For some people, making from scratch is fun, but for others, it can be stressful. So, compromise and bake your favorite recipe from scratch and order other dishes from your local bakery. You can even take that bakery item and put it in your favorite dish.
  • Healthy alternatives: Don’t deprive yourself; however, be choosy about what you eat. Ask yourself if it is really worth it or if you want to save the indulgence for something you really enjoy.
  • Be realistic: We all have dreams and expectations for the perfect holiday. We get a glimpse on TV during commercials or maybe that Hallmark movie. But in real life, things happen and sometimes you have to re-arrange those dreams and embrace what you have at that moment.
  • Schedule time for exercise: Don’t skip something that will definitely reduce your stress. Get those endorphins going and recharge and energize yourself. Your family will reap the benefits!
  • Reach out: Do you know someone who might be experiencing loneliness during the holidays? Or, maybe you are feeling lonely. Whatever the case, reaching out to others can help ease loneliness for yourself and others.
  • Say no in some instances: Remember, it is okay to say no and not feel guilty.
  • Just breathe: Try some deep breathing this holiday season. Get rid of the negative energy and focus on the positive. This can be done by taking time to do some deep breathing exercises. You will feel your belly expand and your lungs are filled with air. Start by breathing in through your nose and out through the mouth. Breathe in and breathe out!

By Debra Staton, Wellness Coordinator for the Arkansas Health Network