Prioritize to reduce stress
For many people, “the most wonderful time of the year” is actually really difficult. There’s just something about the holidays that seems to tap into all our inner woes and stresses. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), almost half of all women (44 percent) and a third of men (31 percent) reported an increase in stress around the holidays. Another survey found that almost half of those polled (45 percent) would prefer to skip Christmas altogether! So what can you do? Prioritize what’s important, and don’t tack on any additional tasks, suggests Margaret Wehrenberg, PsyD, psychologist and author of The 10 Best-Ever Depression Management Techniques. “Create a space and a plan for the important things, and then see what else may fit in around them,” she says. “Think ahead about what is always a waste of time in your life and then do not do those things. For example, if you always bake a lot but have most of the cookies and pastries left over, skip it this year.” Follow these organizational skills to stress-proof your holiday season.
Let go of the picture-perfect holiday
Thanks to popular culture, we all have an idea of what the holidays are “supposed” to look like—sitting around a fire with family and friends and unwrapping plentiful gifts before a big feast. Unfortunately, this happy picture doesn’t reflect many realities of the season. “Unrealistic hopes that everything will be perfect, and that everyone needs to be happy leads to disappointment and frustration, and raises levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which will make you feel edgy and irritable,” says Deborah Serani, PsyD, a psychologist, an award-winning author of Living With Depression, and a professor at Adelphi University. Instead, “focus on what’s ‘good enough,’ and make that your mantra. The more realistic you are about the true meaning of the holidays, which is about celebration and togetherness—not perfection—the more you’ll experience well-being.” Consider making these unique traditions part of your own family’s.