At a glance:
- Over 60% of survey participants report feelings of stress at some point during the holidays.
- The top causes of stress during the holidays are finances, health, gifts, and scheduling.
- You can reshape negative thoughts using CBT to overcome feelings of perfectionism during the holidays.
The holidays are supposed to be the hap-happiest season of all, right?
Well, not for everyone.
According to a survey from Healthline, more than 60% of participants experience stress at some point during the holidays, which is caused by a range of factors, including increased spending, lapses in diet and workout routines, the pressures of gifting, and managing extra busy schedules.
With the demands of work, family, travel, and social responsibilities coming to a peak right before the end of the year, it can be difficult to maintain your usual level of calm. If the holidays make you think less about sipping cocoa by the fire and more about balancing increasing responsibilities, you may want to spend a little extra time practicing mindfulness this time of year.
Ready to get started? Here are five techniques for balancing your stress and mood over the course of the holidays, according to our experts.
Say “goodbye” to perfectionism
One of the most common stressors of the holidays is a need for perfection. Be honest – have you ever thought any of the following to yourself:
“The cookies need to be perfect.”
“The decorations need to be perfect.”
“The kids, clothes, gifts – ALL of it needs to be perfect.”
One of my favorite practices for managing stress-inducing perfectionism during the holidays is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
The goal of CBT is to change your thoughts to decrease the intensity of your feelings.
CBT provides you with a healthy way of reminding yourself that none of the above things need to be perfect.
Here’s how it works:
First, write down some of the negative thoughts that have been floating around your head. Write them all down, giving your negative thoughts a path to exit. Once those thoughts are on paper, you no longer have to keep them in your head.
Next, it’s time to shift your thoughts away from “black and white thinking.” For example, you might think to yourself: “If I don’t get the right gift my friend will hate me.” CBT asks you to challenge those kinds of limiting thoughts. After a thought like that, ask yourself:
Is there evidence for your thinking?
Has your friend ever dropped a relationship due to a bad gift?
How would your friend really react to a bad gift? Disappointment?
If the answer is “Yes, they would be disappointed,” then ask yourself: “Can I handle that?” Chances are it might make you uncomfortable but you can most likely handle that feeling.
If the answer is “No, my friend would probably not care” then you can free yourself from the burden of trying to pinpoint the perfect gift.
The CBT technique gives you a moment to reflect on whether you are catastrophizing the situation. If you are catastrophizing, reduce the thoughts in your head into something easier to deal with.
Laurie Groh, MS LPC SAS Mental health Counselor and Owner of Shoreside Therapies
Make time for deep breathing
The holiday season can be stressful. When we feel stressed and anxious we tend to breathe shallowly, which can exacerbate stress.
When holiday stress starts to sink in, take time to retract into a quiet space and consciously breathe in and out deeply. Not only will this supply your body with sufficient amounts of oxygen, but it will also slow down your heartbeat, lower your stress levels, and increase energy.
Wellness Coach and Co-CEO of everlur
Get to know this stress-relieving pressure point
Next time you are feeling stressed, simply press your thumb around the palm of your opposite hand, moving it around with varying pressure. A quick pressure point hand massage can help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s an easy way to practice self care during the busy holiday season.
Dr. Tasha Holland-Kornegay, Author and Owner, Wellness in Real Life
Be mindful of social burnout
When you’re overextending yourself socially, it can be difficult to keep your batteries charged, especially during the holiday season when get-togethers run rampant.
When you are "hungover" socially, you run the risk of entering conversations frazzled and frustrated. Keep your social batteries charged by taking brief breaks during gatherings for a mind reset, incorporating meditation and mindfulness into your life, and saying "No" to events that don't sound appealing or further your purpose.
Dipal Shah, Transformative and Mindset Expert, Ananda 4 Life
Optimize your sleep routine
It’s especially important to optimize your sleep during the holidays, so that you recharge from event to event. A healthy body creates a healthy mind, so make sure you’re getting plenty or rest to counterbalance added holiday stress.
It only takes a few seconds to diffuse essential oils to create a spa-like atmosphere in your room. Some of my favorites include lavender oil and chamomile oil. Adjusting the temperature of your room is also important for your comfort and optimizing the quantity and quality of your sleep.
Keeping a journal by your bed may also help release any worries or to-do items you don’t want to forget, so that you can rest more easily without stressing about those things all night.
Founder, Personal trainer, Nutrition coach, Self-Love and Fitness
The holidays should be filled with loved ones and light. If they’re causing you more stress than joy, it may be time to take a moment for YOU with these all-natural techniques.
Need an extra boost? Our De-Stress is the quickest, most delicious way to enjoy stress-relieving ingredients, such as passionflower and organic reishi mushroom. Formulated to inspire calm, this nutritional boost is the perfect addition to your holiday mental wellness routine.
Celebrate the holidays with happiness, cheer, and KOR!