Christmas is supposed to be a merry time. Instead, it's often an occasion for overspending, overdoing, and overeating - and that can leave you feeling stressed, tired, and down on yourself. But it's not too late to reclaim your holiday spirit. These tips can help you recapture the joy of the season and take better care of your health.
"When stress is at its peak, it's hard to stop and regroup," said Franciscan Health Behavioral Health Services Manager Christian Ellis-Frederick, LCSW. "It's best to try to prevent depression and stress in advance, especially if the holidays have taken an emotional toll on you in the past."
The number one priority: Don't aim for the perfect Christmas. It doesn't exist, and striving for it only leads to frustration and disappointment. Instead, focus on having a relaxing, meaningful holiday that honors your personal, cultural, and religious traditions.
Check out these strategies for helping de-stress over the hectic Christmas holidays.
Stopping Stress Overload
- Simplify your "to-do" list. Delegate and get help.
- When things start feeling hectic rather than fun, give yourself permission to put up fewer decorations or turn down some invitations.
- Make choices that are good for you and your family. Follow your usual schedule for meals, exercise and sleep as much as possible.
- Teach others to respect your time and have realistic goals.
Tough Economic Times
- Avoid gift-giving frenzies. Spending beyond your means leads to stress - and money worries can dog you well into the new year.
- Use alternative gifts or give homemade items if money is a problem. Those may include something you can make or a card with the offer to provide a task or chore.
- Focusing on the original meaning of a faith-based or secular holiday can help overcome guilt associated with the inability to buy the gifts we would like.
- Consider sharing your time by volunteering as a family. It's a great way to tap into the true spirit of holiday giving.
Take Care Of You
- Take time out for you even if only for a few minutes. Such a mental and physical recharging can reduce stress.
- Don't overload your schedule and put pressure on yourself and others. Anticipate the stress that may occur if you pile too many extra activities on top of your already-busy schedule.
- Release tension and clear your mind by going for a walk, exercise, listening to music, reading or some other healthy activity that helps you unwind.
Franciscan Health Behavioral Health Services offers a variety of services in Indiana and Illinois. The program has a refined, interdisciplinary team approach to treatment for behavioral health and mental health disorders.
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