How to Survive the Holiday Stress

I'm a morning person. When I was younger, I was particularly perky and very self-satisfied by all I could accomplish before 9 am. Part of my morning routine was an early morning check-in with my best friend, also an ambitious early riser.

One year, about a week before Christmas, I called my friend. The person that answered was practically babbling, then manic, then monotone in the course of a 15 minute chat. I discovered she had barely slept in days. The pressure of decorating, shopping, wrapping, mailing, and trying to make everyone's holiday dreams come true had nearly done her in! It's difficult to fall asleep when the to-do list keeps spinning in your head! Of course, I talked to her about self-care, getting more sleep, and reminded her that perfection was not a holiday mandate. The next morning my exhausted friend was seen waiting for the doors to open outside of Target!

This is an all too familiar scenario for people during the holidays. I too have fallen victim, being fully and completely humbled by hosting 15 family members over 5 days at Thanksgiving.
Girls eating at picnic
Of course, I read everything I can about anxiety and here is what I have learned.

A study by the American Psychological Association says 38% of people polled reported that their stress goes up significantly during the holiday season. For many, navigating the holidays is as perilous as walking through a valley of landmines. Even more problematic, it's difficult to provide a map on how to walk through the holly jolly season. What makes each of us stressed or mentally distressed is very personal. We also know depression tends to peak and suicide escalates during the busy winter months.

Now imagine if you already have an anxiety disorder. The pressure to be "happy" can be completely overwhelming. "Ho Ho Ho" becomes a "Hell no!" Here are some of the tools I've learned that I'd like to share!

How to Survive the Holiday Stress
Don't Avoid Holiday Gatherings
Isolating never helps, but if you're stressing over time, set limits on how long you will spend at each event.
Girls hanging out outside of holiday party
Make Reasonable To-do Lists
Give yourself a pass if you don't get them all done. The point of the list is to make you feel less scattered
Decorating for the holidays
Really, the Presents, the Food, the Decorations Don't Matter.
What your family wants is a happy, healthy you!

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