How to Lower Holiday Stress
Although the holidays are a time meant to celebrate joy, good cheer, and overall feelings of positivity, we can’t deny that the holidays are also a source of great stress. Stress during the holidays is especially prevalent for women to experience, and while feeling overwhelmed is perfectly understandable, that high stress can have a harmful impact on women’s health. For women going through menopause, this is especially important.
Stress impacts everything from our immune systems to our brains. Stress hormones can actually act like toxins in the body if they remain high enough for long periods of time. Finding ways to manage stress and reduce stressors in your environment is key to helping preserve your overall health and can even help alleviate menopausal symptoms.
So what are the most commonly shared sources of holiday stress? More importantly, what can you do to help manage that stress?
Money is always tight around the holidays. With so many gifts, decorations, and food supplies to buy, it’s hard to take any joy come New Years’ when the wallet is looking a bit strapped for cash. Managing finances during the holidays can feel like a second job, but there is a way to manage your money during the holidays without feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or incredibly stressed.
Economize where you can.
That $200 tree skirt in the holiday catalog may look beautiful on paper, but do you really think it will work well with the other decorations in your house? Maybe you haven’t even bought those yet? Finding ways where you can spend less and still get the style or quality you want is a very valuable skill. Look for cheaper alternatives to decorations and gifts. Look for deals and savings on high-quality items where you can. Make some homemade gifts or decorations instead of purchasing all new ones.
Create a full budget.
Sometimes it helps to have a visual aid to help you keep track of money coming in vs money going out during the holiday season. Creating a full budget can help you determine whether or not you’re overspending. It may seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re not someone who likes to look at figures. But it’s simple enough once you get the hang of things. If you’re not sure where to start in creating your holiday budget, check out some of these tutorials for some extra help.
Balancing career and family life can be tricky, especially now since many people are working remotely. There are very few boundaries between work and home life when you work from home, and sometimes those boundaries can be helpful. Work stress is one of the biggest sources of stress among women, and it can be difficult to manage the frustration and anxiety one can feel about a workload piling up, but it’s not impossible.
Use your time wisely.
Time management is your friend, and unfortunately, many of us forget to prioritize our time when our heads are overwhelmed by the volumes of work on our desks. The trick is not to let yourself try to multitask to the nth degree. Focus on one task at a time and determine which tasks need to be taken care of as soon as possible and which ones you can put on the backburner for tomorrow. Always refer to your company’s schedule and if you don’t have to work on something until the next week, then save it for then.
Don’t take on other people’s responsibilities unnecessarily.
Nothing is worse than having to do someone else’s job on top of yours. It’s nice to be able to help out your colleagues, especially when a tight deadline is approaching, but it can add even more stress to an already stressful atmosphere. It doesn’t just impact your ability to do your job, it also drains you of energy. Setting boundaries with colleagues and being blunt about the workload that you have to prioritize that day is a good thing. This doesn’t mean to suggest that you can’t offer some help and insight into a particular problem, especially for a team project, but it does mean that you have to remind yourself and of your colleagues that your work is just as important as theirs and needs to be taken just as seriously.
As much as we love our family, they can be a bit much. While we may not be able to spend time with extended relatives this holiday season, many of us are spending time with our kids, our spouses, our partners, and that can be a challenge on its own. With so much to adjust to at home, it’s important to find balance.
Have a space for alone time.
Whether it’s outside in the garden, in the bedroom with a good book, or in the kitchen cooking up a storm, having a space for alone time can have its benefits. Taking time away to rest and to recharge can help you feel energized when it comes to the more social moments in the house. You can find ways to relieve stress in moments of downtime, like engaging in your favorite hobbies, and sometimes the best way to relax is to find a place that’s quiet and peaceful.
Take pleasure in quality family time.
Now hang on, didn’t we just say that alone time was a good stress reliever? Well, it is, but spending time with the family that you can spend time with is also a good stress reliever. When dopamine increases, cortisol decreases. Spending quality, fun-filled time with your kids or your partner can increase dopamine and help you forget about life’s other stresses for a little while.
Weight gain during the holidays is not a rare occurrence. In fact, almost everyone struggles with gaining a few pounds when the holiday feasts make their dinner table debut. Yet, for women going through the menopausal transition, weight management is a little more tricky to navigate. The changes to sex hormones impact how your body stores and distributes fat, as well as how quickly you burn it off. Women can gain up to 3 percent of body fat every year during the menopausal transition, increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and certain cardiovascular diseases. So how can you better manage your weight and the stress that can often be coupled with it?
Practice mindful eating.
Oftentimes the holidays open up a lot of spare time for us, and with spare free time comes occasional boredom. One of the most common things we do when we’re bored is to eat. We may not even be that hungry but we’ll still search through the fridge or pantry for something delicious to munch on. Instead of eating when you’re bored. Eat only when you’re hungry and eat slowly. Don’t scarf down an entire plate to make room for a second helping. Chew slowly and savor your food. You’d be surprised at how quickly you feel full just by taking the time to eat.
Get up and move.
When you do find you’re feeling too sedentary with boredom, the best thing to do is to get the blood pumping. Whether it’s taking a quick walk outside, stretching the muscles, or lifting a few weights, exercise is the best thing to do to reduce stress and help maintain your body’s metabolism. Exercise releases endorphins, which can help lower levels of stress hormones. Up to 30 minutes of exercise a day can help you lower stress levels and help steady your body’s metabolism. So try to get up and move for a little bit throughout the day during the holiday season.
This year has been especially stressful for all of us because of the pandemic. This virus has taken away our stability, has taken some of our family, and has taken control over our lives. A lot of us are feeling angry, fearful, and frustrated with the circumstances this virus has put us in, and that has had a ripple effect on our health through our stress levels. Yet, if we can’t get rid of the virus, how do we manage our stress surrounding it?
Remember to breathe.
When you feel yourself becoming worried or stressed in response to merely thinking about the virus, close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths. Deep breathing exercises help lower stress levels by increasing oxygen to your brain. When this happens, your muscles start to relax and your heart rate starts to lower, helping you feel calmer. Setting aside 10 minutes of time to just take in a few deep breaths can not only help you feel calmer, but it can also help you feel more clear-headed and focused when it comes time for you to get down to business and solve a particular problem.
Ask for help.
As much as it may hurt our pride, asking for help should not be something to actively avoid. Everyone needs help from time to time and reaching out to people who can help you can help you feel more secure even in the shakiest circumstances. If you need help with finances, reach out to people who can help you find ways to make ends meet. If your mental health is taking a turn for the worst, reach out to a therapist to help you get on the right track. You don’t have to go through your stresses alone. In fact, having a solid support network can help you find ways to navigate stressful situations.
Don’t Let Stress Control You
Finding ways to manage your stress puts you in control of your life again. Don’t let stress run the show during the holidays. Instead, take charge and find outlets to help reduce your stress levels so that you can stay healthy!