Alleviating Holiday Stress

Between gift giving, personal reflection, and social commitments galore, the holidays can be a stressful time. Often considered “the most wonderful time of the year,” many would prefer to call this season “the most anxious time of year.” Read along for some advice on alleviating stress and staying calm during a chaotic holiday season.

Set realistic expectations

This means accepting that some interpersonal relationships may be flawed, not over scheduling, and staying within your budget when buying gifts.

Stick to a routine

Try to wake up and eat around the same time each day. Also be sure to schedule time for exercise, social activities, and self care.

Know your triggers

Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, certain foods, people, places, or situations, it’s important to know what triggers your stress and anxiety. Knowing these triggers lets you prepare, set coping mechanisms in place, and sometimes even avoid situations altogether.

Rely on a support system

Know who you can turn to for a bit of support during this stressful season. Beyond friends and family, support groups can also fill this role. Reach out to members of your support system when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or lonely.

Make time for self care

Take some time for yourself. This could be journaling, meditating, going for a walk or to an exercise class, taking a bath, or setting aside time on a busy day for coffee or lunch with a friend.

Maintain your health

This one is simple. In order to minimize stress and anxiety, you need to eat healthy food and get an adequate amount of sleep each night. For some, alcohol increases stress. If you fall into this category, staying away from alcohol may be a good idea.

Know that sometimes, anxiety and stress are ok

In some situations around the holidays—whether attending a holiday party, rushing to wrap a ton of presents, or reflecting on the year that’s gone by—you’re going to feel stressed and anxious no matter how prepared you are. Remember that stress and anxiety are not always a bad thing, and that you will get through it. One idea is to practice positive affirmations or other strategies that help you calm down when anxiety arises.

See a therapist

Talking about your stress and anxiety with a therapist is a great way to cope.

Find a way to give back

Volunteer at a charity that means something to you, help a friend or neighbor in need, or donate some money to a cause that resonates. Helping others will almost always leave you feeling a bit better.

Travel smart

If travel and hectic situations trigger your anxiety, try to avoid traveling by car, train, or air during the busiest days of the holiday season. If your schedule is flexible, schedule your travel on less popular days to steer clear of the stress and chaos of crowded roads, airports, and transportation hubs.

Plan ahead

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering or need to cook for an event, try planning ahead in order to avoid stressing at the last minute to gather supplies and get everything done in time.

Set priorities

When you think there are a million things you need to do, step back for a minute and prioritize. Think about why you think you need to do certain things, and assess whether they are actually important. This could mean you won’t make it to all the parties or be able to prepare a special dish you typically make every year, but everything will most likely turn out just fine regardless. And your stress levels may drop too.

If you are struggling with treatment resistant depression which is more than the usual holiday stress then TMS treatment may be right for you. TMS Neuro Institute is one of the earliest adopters in using transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat depression in Los Angeles. To schedule a consultation, call 888.823.4867 or book an appointment online here.