The holiday season can be a cheerful time spent with family and friends. But with hectic schedules and to-do lists, it can be stressful for many.
Daily stress is normal and healthy, but too much of it on an on-going basis can lead to fatigue, burnout and depression, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
“Think about what’s important to you and spend your energy in those areas,” said Hyong Un, M.D., chief psychiatric officer for Aetna Behavioral Health. “Managing expectations and time can help de-stress the holidays.”
Are you feeling stressed?
Whether it’s getting meals ready, attending a gathering or doing some shopping, the holiday rush can cause someone to become stressed. Some symptoms of stress include irritability or moodiness, difficulty sleeping and a persistent feeling of urgency.
Aetna Resources For LivingSM is offering tips on how to not only survive the holiday season, but to also feel your best.
You may be able to head off stressful situations by being more realistic about expectations and managing time up front. Sometimes it’s best to say “no” when you can’t get to something.
Create a master to-do list and delegate tasks to family members, so you’re not responsible for everything. And be sure to appreciate each event, such as baking or decorating, rather than focusing on making “the day” perfect.
Communicate with your family
It’s not uncommon for communication to break down if someone is stressed or rushing around to get things done.
“Sometimes we don’t even hear one another. Our minds may be on different things that still have to be done for the holidays,” Un said. “But if we listen and express ourselves in the right way, we can communicate effectively.”
Rephrasing is a way of checking whether you understand something. Saying, “Do you mean …” before restating the speaker’s message in your own words allows for effective listening and communicating.
While for many the holidays are synonymous with cheerful feelings and joyous memories, it can be a rough time for others. Elderly people living alone, empty nesters and those who are grieving are vulnerable to feelings of loneliness during the holiday season.
If you’re struggling, setting realistic expectations, asking for support and enjoying the moments you can may help prevent the feelings of loneliness.
It’s important, Un says, to not be so hard on yourself and to remember the holiday season will pass.