As the year is coming to an end, it’s time for relaxing, eating, gift giving — and for some of us, holiday stress.
According to a study by All One Health, 69 percent of Americans are feeling stressed during the holidays. For nearly 45 percent, the stress is so bad that they would rather prefer to skip holidays like Christmas.
It's important to talk about the issue and there are adjustments you can make in order to bring more joy to the holidays.
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Five ways to ease your holiday stress
1. Have realistic expectations
“Christmas is a time of high expectations when achieving perfection seems important…the perfect gift, the perfect party, the perfect family reunion, the perfect dress, ” Elizabeth Ochoa, chief psychologist at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, told Metro.
“When unrealistic expectations and numerous demands fail to be met, then stress peaks,” she added.
Movies, TV-shows, magazines, and commercials tend to highlight a “perfect Christmas” with many gifts, loads of home cooked food, and Christmas decorations in a spotless home.
All of these images push us towards unrealistic expectations of ourselves, others and what holidays like Christmas should look like.
It’s important to remember that the holidays don’t have to be perfect to be joyful.
Forget the “idyllic Christmas” and create your own tradition based on things that work best for you.
2. Stick to a budget
Holidays generally means having to spend more money than usual and The National Endowment for Financial Education cites that "gifts, parties, decoration, and travel are sources of financial pressure during the holidays, bringing holiday stress."
To feel less stressed about holiday spending, make a plan and a budget you can stick to.
Before you shop, determine how much you can afford to spend and what things that are actually necessary and what you can skip.
3. Stop and take a breath
While it may be difficult to find the right gifts, spend time with the family and work at the same time, it’s important to take a breath and spend some time with yourself.
A study made by The Mayo clinic showed that when the participants spent 15 minutes a day doing something relaxing without any distractions, their stress levels dropped compared to those who didn’t, even if it only was for 15 minutes.
"Listen to your body, people often feel stress physically before they understand why. If you notice a pit in your stomach, take a moment to try to understand its source," Ochoa explains.
These short moments can help you clear your head and reflect.
4. Be flexible as rush approaches
As the holidays are getting closer, try to be open-minded and flexible. This may seem unrealistic as you stress to meet the holiday deadline but a study by Accountempts showed that 44 percent experienced a productivity drop-off the week before Christmas, both at work and at home.
The study also showed that this could be avoided with a little flexibility. In fact, 54 percent of the participants experienced that when they didn’t make strict holiday plans and instead were open-minded to change them they got more relaxed and more productive.
“Families tend to gravitate to traditions, try to introduce new ways of celebrating the holidays, thereby making new memories,” Ochoa suggests.
5. Always share the responsibilities
If you’re the one hosting this years holiday celebrations, it doesn’t automatically mean that you are the one who’s responsible for all of the preparations and the cooking.
To make it easier for both yourself and others you should share all the responsibilities.
Everyone can help out by for example bringing different food to the table, buying decorations and bringing joy to the night by planning some fun games.
By doing this, you don’t have to feel stressed about the preparations and everyone will feel like they’re being a part of the celebrations.
There's no guarantee that these recommendations will work for you, but they're worth a try.
It's time to get rid of holiday stress once and for all!