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Holiday Stress Got You Down? What You Can Do to Bounce Back

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With the holiday season fresh upon us, you might feel like you’re supposed to be full of joy at all times. But sometimes that can be really hard and nearly impossible. And it’s okay. 

As we approach the end of the year, many of us are simply tired.

So, how can we keep from feeling like a Scrooge during this special time of year? We have some practical tips to help you maintain your cheer as the year wraps up. 

Slow down to find energy.

Slowing down might prove to be key to fighting those Grinch-like tendencies creeping up. Take a moment to reflect on these prompts. 

  • When was the last time you sat down to read a book? (Not the news!)
  • When was the last time you stopped to be mindful in the moment?
  • When was the last time you stopped what you were doing to take a break?
  • How might you spend this holiday season differently than in previous years? 
  • What new (and maybe better) traditions might bring joy this year?

If you get energy from reaching out to those you haven’t connected with in some time, make a plan to do so. Maybe it’s a good book and great food. Start thinking about how to use the holiday time to slow down. Taking the time to recharge can pay dividends heading into the new year. 

Nip holiday anxiety in advance.

While the holidays have traditionally been a time of gathering and entertaining, this year’s season may be markedly different in light of the new COVID variant and travel restrictions. (For more information on safety guidelines for holiday gatherings during the pandemic, check out the CDC’s website.)

If you feel anxious about attending a holiday gathering with friends or family, try these tips to help prepare. 

  • Set boundaries: It’s okay to say no. You know yourself best, including what healthy boundaries you may need to set this holiday season.
  • Plan ahead: If it’s your first time getting together with others in a while, ask the host what to expect in the way of food, attire, and whether you need to bring anything. You can also ask if the guests will provide their vaccination or booster status, as well as mask preferences.
  • Remember to breathe: Practice your breathing when you start to feel anxious. This is one of the best calming techniques there is. Step out for some fresh air if you need to.
  • Set a goal: Before you get there, set a goal of how long you plan to stay. Be okay with sticking to this goal. After you leave, tell yourself how powerful you are for overcoming your anxiousness.

Practice self-care and gratitude.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned throughout the pandemic, it is that we can’t communicate with each other enough. This extends to having tough conversations with friends and family on the levels of precautions you’re comfortable with during the holidays.  

Practicing self-care and gratitude are two quick ways to center yourself before having a hard conversation. 

A few ways to practice self-care include:

  • Going outside in nature
  • Lighting a candle and setting an intention
  • Listening to a playlist of your favorite songs
  • Doing something calming like yoga or meditation 

A few ways to channel gratitude include: 

  • Writing down something that you're grateful for
  • Telling a friend or family member why you're grateful for them
  • Thanking someone (maybe with a handwritten note)
  • Showing kindness to a stranger

Remember that it’s okay to view the holiday season as a time to pause and catch your own breath. Before you take care of anyone else, you have to take care of yourself.

Takeaway tips for maintaining cheer during the holidays

  • Slow down and find ways to recharge
  • Unplug when possible
  • Safely connect with people, whatever that looks like to you
  • Plan ahead to relieve anxiety during holiday gatherings 
  • Practice gratitude and self-care
  • Make space for yourself
Last Updated:
First Published:
December 22, 2021
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