Stressing Less During The Holidays | Blog | Valley Cares
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November 20, 2020 By ftadmin

Woman standing in field looking into distance at sunset

The holidays are a special time of year, but even with the festivities can come a lot of holiday stress. If you are struggling with financial difficulties, have unstable housing, or are in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction, you may find that this season presents more challenges than you know how to handle. With effective coping skills, you can survive and even enjoy the holidays, no matter how you spend them. Here are eight strategies for how to combat holiday stress and get you through both good times and bad.

Manage Your Expectations

The holidays can put a lot of demands on you, from spending time with family and friends to buying presents you may not be able to afford. It’s not unusual for people to have high hopes for the perfect holiday, but how realistic is perfection? Instead, you can try to make things easier this season by simplifying your celebrations. Limit gift exchanges, forego parties where food and drink are excessive or say no to any other event that causes you holiday anxiety. There’s no rule that says you must participate in everything.

Get Out of Your Head

The holidays can also be a time when the stress of family gatherings can make you feel judged or unsupported. You may worry about how people perceive your situation, and any change in family or friend dynamics can come with growing pains. Remember that the people who surround you should love and support you. Don’t focus on what you think they may think about you; after all, you aren’t a mind reader. This is an opportunity to build trust and show kindness, and hopefully you will receive the same in return.

Take Care of Yourself

One of the reasons that coping with holiday stress can be so difficult is that you may not be able to stick to your routine. If you make self-care a priority during the season, you can be better prepared to go with the flow and avoid destructive behaviors. For example, you should get regular exercise to release endorphins, help with cravings, and improve your mood. Be sure to eat healthy and get lots of rest as well; these basic components of self-care can give you a focus and help you deal with the stress.

Do Unto Others

If you find yourself concentrating on your problems to a degree that you are unable to enjoy the holidays, you can take a break from you and help someone else. Volunteering can be a meaningful way to support others at a time of need, just as other people may have helped you when you needed it. See what opportunities are in your community to spread holiday cheer and do good for people who can appreciate it.

Don’t Overdo It

Another approach for coping with the holidays is to just say no. It can be empowering to realize you don’t have to do everything, from shopping to planning big meals to having company to attending every party. The holiday season has turned into a celebration of excess, and for many people, this version of holiday joy is not possible or healthy. Avoid situations where you are tempted to resort to the old habits or give in to peer pressure.

Downtime Is a Good Thing

When all that togetherness turns into holiday anxiety, give yourself permission to take a break and get some alone time. Too much socializing can be stressful, and it is okay to decompress. Take this opportunity to listen to relaxing music, enjoy a hot bath or shower, take a nap, or write in a journal. What it isn’t, on the other hand, is an excuse to withdraw and isolate yourself. Socialization with boundaries is essential to a sense of community, family, and support.

A Little Help, Please

Whenever you make a change to help yourself, you may experience some push-back from friends or family who don’t have such strong coping skills on their own. At times, this feeling of being misunderstood can wreak havoc on any progress you have made, especially if you are in recovery. When you feel overwhelmed, seek out the help of people who you can trust and understand what you are going through. A sponsor, counselor, friend, or family member who you can turn to you feel hopeless and helpless can keep you on the right track. Don’t ever be afraid to need help; no one goes through this life alone.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Make this a holiday season of new traditions that reflect the journey you are following. You can decide what is important to you, and then put your effort into that. You may find the holidays more enjoyable by doing less, not more, and focusing on what brings you peace and happiness. Don’t give in to the pressures of friends or family you may not understand the path you are pursuing. Maybe this is the year that you say goodbye to what doesn’t serve you and spend your energy on what makes you happy, healthy, and secure.

A Hand and A Heart

If you find that holiday anxiety is getting the better of you, remember that Valley Behavioral Health is here to help. Please contact us during the holidays or any time of year to learn more about our services and get the care and support you need for coping with holiday stress, alcohol or drug addiction, mental health issues, or whatever else may come your way.

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