holiday season is meant to be a joyous occasion filled with laughter and happiness. But all too often the stress of preparing for large gatherings and purchasing gifts for every relative takes away all the fun.
According to the American Psychological Association, 61 percent of people felt stress sometimes or often during the holidays. This survey also found that 38 percent of people felt an increase in stress. It’s safe to say, the holidays can be a stressful time.

To avoid it, here are some tactics for coping with holiday stress.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

A good first step to managing your stress levels is the ability to recognize when you are overwhelmed. If preparing for the holidays has you feeling overwhelmed, the best thing you can do is to ask for help!

After all, helping others is what the holidays are meant to be about. You’ll not only be able to better manage your stress, but give someone an opportunity to feel good about themselves during the holidays knowing they made your life a bit easier.

Asking for help is also a great way to build your relationships with others which will give you a stronger support network during other high-stress situations. We all feel uncomfortable asking for help, especially the first few times, but once you get used to it, you’ll realize others enjoy lending a helping hand.

This makes it easier to ask for help in the future as you build stronger stress-management practices.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead takes two forms:

  1. Setting aside a budget to reduce financial stress.
  2. Leaving yourself enough time to get everything done.

A survey by the Principal Financial Group found that over half of Americans feel financial stress during the holiday season. To help cope with this holiday stress, create a pre-planned budget and stick to that budget. This will help anyone manage the stress related to holiday spending.

By sticking to a budget you can plan out your expenses and know you’ll be financially stable once the holidays are over.

Time management can also help you cope with holiday stress. Simply make sure you have enough time to get everything done.

Between figuring out the perfect gift, purchasing that gift, preparing food, and planning any parties and traditions your family may have, there is a lot to manage during the holidays. But if you plan ahead you can set aside time to get each of these tasks done. This will relieve a lot of anxiety as the holidays get closer and you can enjoy family time and relaxation.

Just Say No

The word “no” can be the most difficult word to say in the English language. By saying no, you might feel as though you let down someone who is important in your life. But if that person really deserves to be important in your life, they’ll understand you can’t do everything.

Learning to say “no” is important both for building healthy relationships and for coping with holiday stress. So if you’ve taken on too much, just say no the next time someone asks you to do something. They’ll understand you have a lot on your plate and that your “no” is not a personal attack, but simply you understanding your own limitations.

Keep Up With Your Existing Healthy Habits

It’s easy to allow the holidays to be an excuse for drifting away from your healthy habits. Whether that be eating unhealthy, skipping your workouts, or any other choice, you shouldn’t let the holiday season completely rob you of your healthy routines.

A morning run is a great way to start your day and reduce stress. Many people consider it a form of meditation where they can just focus on the task at hand. A healthy meal at the end of the day can help you enjoy your family without worrying about how your day went or what you need to do tomorrow. Keeping up with your healthy habits will streamline your holiday planning to prevent stress from building up over the weeks before your festivities.

Accept That Others Feel the Holiday Stress too

Understanding that others feel the stress of the holiday season will help you feel less isolated. When you know you’re not the only one feeling holiday stress, you’ll be more likely to talk about coping with holiday stress. You should feel as though you’re battling the holidays with your friends and family instead of against them.

If You Need Professional Help, Get It

If you feel like the holidays are too stressful to handle, or your stress levels remain heightened well after the holiday season is over, professional help could be exactly what you need.

Clinical psychologists, therapists, and even lifestyle coaches are often a good place to start. They can work with you to develop tactics to deal with stress that are personalized to your needs. They’ll be able to provide specific types of psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, that are designed to attack the symptoms of high stress from two directions: cognitively and behaviorally (and without medications).

If the stress symptoms persist or get worse, it may be time to see a psychiatrist. If you’re located in San Diego County, you can schedule a consultation with a psychiatrist or one of our psychiatric physician assistants at Pacific Psych. During this consultation, we’ll investigate whether or not a medication or some other type of psychiatric intervention may be appropriate.

Our providers are able to offer the latest, evidence-based treatments to help people struggling with symptoms of depression and anxiety that may have been brought on by chronic and/or high levels of stress. We regularly help upwards of 200 patients each month deal with a variety of difficulties in managing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Realizing you need help is the first step to realizing real improvements in your life. The second step is actually getting that help. PPC can help you find the solutions you need to improve your life today.