Welcome to the holiday season, a whirlwind of gift-giving holidays, parties, and activities galore that starts at the beginning of November, builds at Thanksgiving, and continues gaining momentum through the end of the year.

And while this season is meant to bring feelings of love, togetherness, and cheer, it also brings stress and sadness for many. 

The Mayo Clinic reports that unwelcome guests like depression and anxiety are common during the holidays. But with a few practical tips, you can minimize your stress and better cope during the holidays, so your Christmas is more white than blue.

 

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Sadness and stress are common during the holidays, especially if someone you love has recently died or you can’t be with loved ones. 

Your feelings are entirely normal and understandable, and you can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season. It’s okay to take time to express your feelings. 

 

Reach Out or Volunteer

If you feel lonely or isolated, consider inviting a group of friends to your home. You can also seek out social events in your community that will offer opportunities for support and companionship. 

And, if everyone you know is with family during the holidays, you could volunteer to help those less fortunate than yourself. 

Volunteering during the holidays is an excellent way to lift your spirits and connect meaningfully during the holidays. Many volunteers express how fulfilling their experiences are and how grateful it makes them feel.

 

Take Care of Yourself 

Don’t throw healthy habits out the window because you’re feeling sad, stressed, or a mix of emotions. 

Taking care of yourself during this season includes getting enough sleep, drinking lots of water, and continuing to exercise. 

Exercise is crucial in reducing stress levels because physical activity produces endorphins, which improve your ability to sleep and reduces stress. Whether it’s a long workout at the gym, or a walk through the neighborhood to look at the lights and decorations, exercising will help you cope during this season.

 

Be Realistic

The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. This might be the case if you’re welcoming out-of-town guests and hosting family festivities. 

You don’t necessarily have to cancel your plans, but make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. 

The holidays don’t have to be perfect, and they may not be the same as last year. As families change and grow, traditions often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. 

For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, emails, calls, or videos.

 

Manage Your Expectations

With family and friends, it’s crucial to be aware of your own expectations and limitations. Reflect on previous years and try to pinpoint how much you and your family can handle before feeling overwhelmed or stressed.

 

Set Aside Differences

Being in close quarters with some of your family members for long periods of time can be stressful in itself. 

When they are visiting, try to accept family members and friends as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. 

Chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression, too.

 

Plan Ahead

Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends, and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list to help prevent last-minute scrambling and shopping forgotten ingredients. 

 

Take A Breather

Setting aside time for yourself is another great way to cope with stress during the holidays. Find something to reduce stress and clear your mind, like listening to music, sipping on some hot cocoa or reading a book. 

These activities can refresh you enough to help you maintain your sanity as you juggle family obligations, social events, and holiday shopping. 

 

There is hope for coping during the holidays! 

Don’t let this season become something you dread. Instead, take steps to prepare for the sadness and prevent the stress that can descend during the holidays. With a little planning, some positive thinking, and prayer, you can find peace and joy during the holidays.

Psalm 42:11 tells us, “O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.”

Put your hope in God this holiday season, and He will carry you.