Although there is often much excitement around the approaching holiday season, it can be a demanding time of year- from packed social calendars to neglecting a healthy diet to pressure to provide the ‘perfect’ day, it isn’t surprising that most people report a surge in stress and anxiety around this time. One recent survey asked various age groups what concerns them over the festive season, with stresses ranging from financial demands to family dramas and disrupted routines. 

So to stop yourself feeling overwhelmed by the festive season, what can you do to minimize stress and anxiety? Follow these practical tips and see if they help:

1) Stick to a budget

Since one of the main courses of stress around the festival season is attributed to the financial cost, try your best to stick to a budget for all the extra holiday requirements. This includes setting a realistic budget for food shopping and gifts. Be upfront with loved ones if you are struggling to fund lavish gifts- so often we get absorbed in the commercial aspects that we forget it is about the gesture, not the gift. Why not agree to donate to charity instead? Use your talents to create a more personal, homemade gift or start a ‘Secret Santa’ where everyone sticks to an agreed budget so as not to get carried away with gift buying!

2) Plan plan plan!

It is inevitable that your routine will be disrupted over the festive season as you try to juggle seasonal priorities with your normal day to day lifestyle. Be on top of your social calendar by planning as much as you can in advance. We suggest keeping a ‘festive journal’ and log your to-do list: everything from the weekly food shop, to decorations to family events. This will not only help you stay organised and avoid last-minute panic, but also prevent those overwhelmed feelings. Make a point of reviewing your to-do list at the end of the day and crossing off any tasks that you have completed. This small sense of achievement will reassure that you are in control and can handle what the upcoming season has in store.

3) Don’t completely let your good habits slip

Whilst the holiday season is undoubtedly a time to relax our routines and enjoy ourselves, it is not a time to abandon our healthy habits completely. By all means enjoy food and drink in moderation, accept social events that excite you and relax your workload but don’t make overindulgence a habit. Tips to stay on top of this include getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, keeping up regular exercise and avoiding the holiday buffet!

4) It is ok to say no

 Research has suggested another common festive anxiety is caused by the social demands placed on us: fear of missing out or of turning down an invite means we are in danger of burnout as we push our bodies to the extreme. Take a step back and consider your social calendar- what is a priority, what means a lot to you and what are the things you can cut back on or miss out? Be honest with friends and family if you have to turn down an offer- chances are they will be relieved as they are in a similar situation themselves! Learn to be selective and only accept extra demands you are willing to take on. You will then appreciate and enjoy these events a lot more.

5) Take a breather

 Even with all the above tips, chances are there will be a point over the festive season where it all gets a bit much- stop and BREATHE. This is completely normal. Acknowledge you are feeling this way, take a moment to accept this and remove yourself from the situation for a time out. This could be as simple as going for a 15-minute walk, taking a bath after a long day or getting an early night. Addressing these feelings in a positive way helps take control of emotions and reduce any feelings of stress and anxiety.

If you are struggling with stress and anxiety now or over the holiday season, our Choices Personalized Retreats program is an intensive evidence-based program that will provide you with the essential strategies needed to help you cope. Find out more here: https://choicesretreats.com

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