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Keeping holiday stress at bay

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13 December 2021|3 min read

I love the holidays. I love seeing family and friends, I love the food and of course, being here in Australia, I love the weather. For me, these are things that make me and a lot of other people very happy.

However, this time of year can bring a lot of stress whether it be from racing around to dozens of social engagements, managing any little conflicts that crop up or any number of things that can make the next few weeks more of a challenge than a time to enjoy.

If you’re thinking it’s just you, you can rest assured that you’re not alone. While the holidays can bring enormous amounts of joy, it’s been well established through research that stress is just a part of the holiday season as joy and celebration. 

Some studies have reported that when asked about stress over the holidays, as many as 61% of people report stress with many others saying they feel fatigued, angry or even lonely.

What causes holiday stress?

The most commonly reported sources of stress around the holiday period include work commitments, while we all rush to get everything done, family issues, financial stress from buying gifts or extra food. 

Some people also report significant amounts of loneliness around the holidays, especially if they’re separated from family and friends. Our tendency to overindulge probably doesn’t help, whether it be too many social occasions or more calorie-dense food and alcohol than we would normally consume. 

It’s not just the day either - even repetitive playing of ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ or Christmas decorations make the list of things that people find annoying over this period.

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Turns out stress is as much a part of the holiday season for some as joy and celebration.

7 ways to manage your holiday stress

1. Enjoy yourself but don’t constantly overindulge

It’s great to enjoy yourself including having your favourite holiday foods and drinks. 

However, try not to go too hard at the pavlova and champagne. You can absolutely enjoy yourself without such overindulgence. Especially true of alcohol, still try and drink within safe guidelines

2. Don’t neglect your physical activity

I love a Christmas afternoon nap, but I still try and keep some activity going over the holidays. 

It doesn’t have to be your usual routine but even some physical activity can acutely reduce your stress. It might be a walk or even a game of backyard cricket, anything will be great for you

3. Say no if you need to

It’s so hard being pulled to all these different events so remember that you don’t actually have to! 

Saying no can give you some much-needed downtime over a really busy period. If you feel obliged to attend, perhaps go to your work Christmas party for a short period of time rather than the whole evening, leaving time to recharge your batteries .

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Prioritise much needed downtime this holiday season.

4. Get some sleep

I know it’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends but without good sleep, everything will seem that much harder. 

While you may have some late nights, try to still prioritise a good sleep most if not every night to keep you happy and healthy

5. Be mindful of money

Whether it be about what you can spend or what you expect others to spend, remember that money is not the sole purpose of the holidays. This might mean setting a budget for yourself or being mindful of what you expect others to do.

6. Lookout for loneliness

Being lonely is not a nice thing to experience, so if you are alone, why not reach out for the holidays? 

It might mean making some plans with others or alternatively, there are always community events for those who are flying solo over Christmas.

If you’re aware someone is on their own for the holidays, perhaps invite them to lunch or even drop in for a coffee. It might be the best gift you could ever give someone.

7. Reach out for help

You will not be alone in finding this time overwhelming. If you’re feeling like you’re struggling, speak to your GP, trusted friend or family member or call Lifeline for some extra support.

Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board December 2021 

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about your health you should consult with a health professional.