The holidays are fast upon us—and along with the joys and traditions come many stresses. From spending time with family to prepping for dinners and parties to finding the perfect gift, there’s no end to the stressors. With the added pressure and subsequent exhaustion, it’s no wonder many of us will battle holiday-related anxiety and depression. Divorce, blended families and recent deaths may compound those feelings.
In many cases, striking a balance between expectations and reality can be hugely beneficial. Here are eight ways to help nip stress in the bud.
1.Evaluate your holiday expectations and decide what’s achievable. Cooking a large dinner while working full time and caring for children or aging parents may be unrealistic.
2. Be present. Put away phones and computers, and focus on the people that mean the most to you.
3. Get enough sleep. Research suggests that getting between seven and nine hours nightly improves thinking and decision-making skills and the ability to regulate mood.
4. Delegate responsibility. Anticipate what you’ll need help with, and ask in advance. This will decrease chances of feeling frantic and overwhelmed.
5. Make time for exercise. Exercising 30 minutes a day, a minimum of three times per week, has been shown to improve mood, help with sleep and reduce anxiety.
6. Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are.
7. Stick to a budget. Don’t feel guilty if your budget doesn’t allow for elaborate gifts.
8. Seek professional help. If you find yourself feeling sad, anxious, having physical ailments or unable to sleep, talk to a mental-health professional.