It is okay to be stressed during the holidays.
As we kick off the lovely but busy month of December, I want to remind you that it’s okay to be stressed this time of year.
The media will have us believe that the holidays are only for peace, togetherness, magic, gratitude, and happiness.
Of course, we all want that… and hopefully many of us will be fortunate enough to experience those things.
But the holidays are also a source of a lot of stress. In fact, I can’t think of many other times in the year – or, in life, really – when so many stressors converge. You may deal with a combination of awkward family dynamics, interpersonal tension, seemingly innumerable extra things to do, travel hassles, financial worries, health and body image concerns, or anxiety from social gatherings.
This is against a backdrop of unrealistic expectations. “I want to relive Christmases of the past!”, “I am going to eat anything I want this holiday season… but I will lose my mind if I gain a pound!”, or “I want to have a relaxing holiday, but I also want to host three parties, attend these other seven social events, put up five Christmas trees, and make homemade holiday potpourri for 76 of my closest friends, which I will wrap in homemade wrapping paper and hand-deliver, of course.”
And allll this is wrapped up in a flurry of emotions: On the lighter side, think sappy holiday music and movies. On the heavier side, think nostalgia, grief, loneliness, frustration, and guilt.
Holiday stress is valid.
With all these potential sources of stress, it’s okay to feel stressed during the holidays. Actually, it’s pretty much expected.
I’m not trying to be a Grinch… I do genuinely love the holidays!
But I think it’s important to recognize all the things that can come up over the holidays so that we can deal with them effectively. You will not have a better holiday if you pretend that none of these things exist. Pretending everything is lovely is not going to make you feel any less stressed.
The fact that stress is an inevitable part of the holidays (and of life) is okay.
It does not mean that you’re doing something wrong.
It does not mean that you will not enjoy the holidays.
In fact, a certain amount of stress feels good! It can motivate us. It can be exhilarating.
However, too much stress does not feel good.
That’s when we have to acknowledge how we are feeling and take conscious action to get back to feeling good. The stress itself is no big deal; it’s a neutral physiological reaction. However, how we deal with that stress is what matters.
So, yes, the holidays can be stressful… but it’s not acceptable to merely say “Well, the holidays are stressful! There’s nothing I can do about it.” That kind of thinking will ruin the season for you because you’ll burn out and have a hard time being present.
We all have things we turn to to get back to feeling good when we aren’t feeling the greatest because of stress. These can be quick things or bigger things. You might work out, listen to a favourite song, cuddle with a pet, go for a walk, hug a loved one, meditate, bake, sing, do crafts, breathe deeply, journal, read, step outside for a breath of fresh air, etc.
As the holiday season really starts to gear up, take a few minutes to think of a few things you can do whenever you start to feel the pressure or feel off. Write them down or stick them in a note on your phone and then come back to that list often. Look at it at least once a day. Commit to doing those things, both proactively and as a means of resetting when the stress in your body gets too high.
Remember, the holidays can be an intense time of year but that doesn’t mean the stress of the holidays has to take over your life.
You are empowered to get back to feeling good.
Thank you for reading!
LORA Concepts Inc.
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p.s. The information, insight, and advice I share through my work is meant to exist alongside whatever else you may be doing to bolster your mental health, manage stress, or improve your well-being. Nothing I share is meant to replace directives or treatment plans provided by your doctor, therapist, or other healthcare professional.