Christmas can be a lovely time, with loving memories and family gatherings. However, it can also be tough and challenging.
Here are some simple yet helpful tips on coping with the stress of the holiday season. Some of these tips may not be relevant to you, and that’s ok. Try different things and figure out what works best for you.
Take time to recharge. We often forget that our social and emotional batteries can feel depleted after (and during) the holidays. It’s essential to give ourselves time to rest and reset in whichever way we need.
For some people, it’s about having coffee with a friend or going on long walks; for others, it’s about being by themselves with a cup of tea and a good book.
And if you’re worried about being productive, remember: taking time to recharge is productive too!
Start a daily gratitude list. List a minimum of five things that you are grateful for or happy about in your life. Challenging our minds to focus on the positives, even if it’s just for a minute, can help us change our mindset and change the course we may be on. You focus on the present and leave the future and the past alone for a few minutes.
You can start small (be thankful for today’s coffee) or something more significant (your health and your family).
So ask yourself this question: what are five things to be grateful for today?
Be around people that make you feel safe. If you’re struggling with loneliness during the holidays, plan ahead and organise a coffee date or something else with a person you value and feel safe with. If, on the other hand, you’re struggling to deal with triggering family members, plan a meeting or a call with someone you feel safe to talk about your struggles.
If you can (and want to), find a time to meet or talk to a friend or someone you value.
Say no. Setting boundaries is crucial for our mental well-being, especially during the holidays. It can bring a sense of safety and comfort if we’re struggling. Some boundaries may work, while others may not, and that’s ok. Maintaining as many as possible is enough sometimes. Some people may not understand and disagree with them, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t respect them.
However, if you can’t avoid a difficult situation, try to plan something for yourself afterwards to help reduce stress or discomfort.
Avoid comparisons. If you go on social media, avoid comparing your holiday experience with your friends or people you follow. Remember that people share the best versions and bits of their life. They do not reflect real life or even how your life should be.
We are all different, and that’s the beauty of it. If you need to, limit your exposure to social media or TV and focus on the moment, family time, or any other social events you have going on.
And as we all know: social media is not reality, and we only see the curated version of everyone.
Move your body in some way. Try to go on a walk around the park (or around the block), a morning stretch or a dancing session with your family. A change of scenery may be necessary when we have to deal with many social events, and going on a winter walk can be a good way to get some fresh air.
Maybe add a cosy playlist, an exciting audiobook or podcast, or invite a close friend to join you if you don’t want to be alone.
Talk to someone if you need to. Ask for help, call a friend or meet with someone you trust if you’re feeling overwhelmed or worried about Christmas or New Year. Let people you trust know you’re struggling and tell them what you need, as it can help to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Even telling people what questions or topics you’d rather avoid and not discuss.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone if you need to, and don’t forget that you don’t have to justify yourself to others.
Be kind to yourself. Try not to put yourself under too much pressure, and remember to put yourself first. Accept who you are, and don’t try to become someone else to please others. Moreover, sometimes kindness comes in different forms. For example, getting enough sleep during the holidays is a form of self-care.
Be gentle and patient with yourself and prioritise what you need.