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Tips for Managing Stress During the Holidays

Although the holidays can be an exciting and special time of the year, they can also bring about increased levels of stress. With the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrations and traditions will likely look different. Grieving those familiar comforts, combined with increasingly cold temperatures and unforgiving weather can contribute to heightened anxiety.

In addition to external factors, internal factors such as unrealistic expectations, social anxiety, financial pressure and loss of sleep can also make the holidays more stressful.

Consider the following tips to make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable:

  • Manage expectations: Whether they’re your own or someone else’s, it’s easy to get swept up in the “holiday spirit” and plan for more than can reasonably and healthily be accomplished. Carefully assess what you and others expect of the holiday season, and plan accordingly. With COVID-19 precautions in place, we’re all adjusting our expectations together, and help is available should you need support. 
  • Set a budget: The holidays can be an expensive time of year. Plan your budget in advance, and track it so that you don’t overextend yourself.
  • Pace yourself: Only accept responsibilities that you are confident you can manage. Do your best within your limits to prevent overexerting yourself. You can’t control everything, so it’s beneficial to identify coping methods ahead of time, keeping you from feeling anxious should things not go according to plan.
  • Stay active: People tend to become less active during the holidays, which can negatively impact your health and self-image. Staying active has been shown to positively impact stress and depression and may help you feel less isolated during a time when you’re otherwise staying home.
  • Get social: Many non-profits still require volunteers to run their programming during this challenging season. Contact your local non-profits and ask what kind of help they need. There may be ways you can contribute that match your comfort level during the pandemic. Consider celebrating with family and friends virtually. Try a scavenger hunt over Zoom, or have a gingerbread house decorating competition! Call your friend and watch a holiday film while on the phone — find ways to celebrate and socialize from home.

Have any other ideas for socializing safely this holiday season? Share with us!