The holiday season is in full swing, people. Thanksgiving may be over, but now, everywhere you turn, "Santa Baby" is on the radio, retail sales are pouring in like a summer storm, and you have to spend way too much time RSVP’ing to Paperless Post invites for festive potlucks. And sure, all of these things can be fun sometimes, but they can also fall under the category of little things that stress you out over the holidays — things that don’t even have anything to do with attending your mom’s yearly, neighborhood-wide gift exchange, or sitting next to critical Uncle Roger during dinner yet again.
Listen, friends, you are definitely not alone if the mere thought of the holidays leaves you feeling a bit tense. Pretty much everyone gets stressed this time of year — even Santa and the elves, I would assume. But for real, when Healthline polled thousands of its readers on how they feel about the holidays, a whopping 61 percent of millennials said they feel stressed out over Christmahanakwanzika. So yeah, it’s definitely a thing.
But the good news is, once you’re aware of what gets your stress levels worked up, you can start to practice things that’ll help you stay calm and find balance. I spoke with a few experts about the little things that can get you down around the holidays (you know, besides your cringiest extended family members), and they had some pretty damn good advice for how to handle it all.
Multiple Party Invitations For The Same Day
Oh, for the love of eggnog and fruit cake, I am already starting to sweat just thinking about this. Seriously, what are you supposed to do when two different BFFs invite you to two different New Year’s Eve party on the same night?
According to Betsy Leahy, an integrative nutrition health coach and founder of LoveToSpa.com, it’s easy to forget that, when you’re invited to so many events throughout the holiday season, and those events all seem to be happening at the exact same time, you still have every right to choose what you actually want to do. So yes, that means you can say no sometimes — without guilt.
"This time of year is different than any other time of year," Leahy tells Elite Daily over email. "There are more demands on us, more to-dos, and more invitations. While we might ordinarily say yes to every invitation in other times, this is a period to be a bit more discerning."
Remember: There’s a difference between things you must do, and things you really want to do.
Hosting A Party Or Planning An Event
Some people love to host, and other people, well, do not love to host. But when it’s your turn to have the squad over for some rum punch and a Secret Santa gift exchange, sometimes you just have to step the F up. To which I say, ugh, really?
"Gatherings come with expectations that are most often unrealistic, which causes you to stress about measuring up to those expectations to avoid judgment, whether they are your own or ones held by family and friends," Emily Cosgrove, life coach and clinically trained/licensed couple and family therapist, tells Elite Daily. The goal, says Cosgrove, is to release yourself from the weight of those expectations, because the truth is, all your loved ones really want at the end of the day is to hang out with you and enjoy your company.
If you’re hosting this year, take your planning step-by-step, Cosgrove suggests, and try to stay in the moment and breathe. Plus, remember that you don’t have to go all five-star chef in preparing for the gathering. You can make things real simple and have a pizza party, or even a potluck where everyone helps out and brings a little something of their own. If it’s the presents you’re worried about, establish a spending cap so everyone’s on the same page.
"Take deep breaths, and know whatever will be, will be," says Cosgrove. "Do what you need to do to so that you aren’t constantly comparing and measuring yourself up to unrealistic expectations."
Holiday chores, including gift shopping
Am I the family member who buys gifts at the bookstore on Christmas Eve? Yes, guys. I am 100 percent that family member. And yes, waiting until the last minute does stress me out every year — but for some reason, I still fall into that trap, year after year.
"Procrastination is one of the biggest stressors of the holiday season," Dr. Reshmi Saranga, adult and geriatric psychiatrist at Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry, tells Elite Daily in an email. "There is so much to do from shopping, wrapping presents, cooking, getting the house ready for visitors, and traveling,"
To avoid the stress of getting all of these things done at the last minute, Dr. Saranga recommends making a to-do list you can follow, and completing a few holiday tasks each day or each week to keep things balanced. She also suggests doing things like shopping during off-peak hours to avoid crowds and take the pressure off.
That cash money
From travel, to gifts, to bottles on bottles of wine, holiday spending can add up real quick. "Finances can be a huge concern during the holidays," Ginger Poag, MSW, LCSW, CEMDR, licensed clinical psychotherapist and trauma counselor at Brentwood Wellness Counseling, tells Elite Daily. "Many people are concerned that they may not have enough to purchase all of the gifts they would like for their friends and family."
Poag tells me she often encourages her clients throughout the holiday season to make a detailed, budget-friendly shopping list, and to stick with it as they make the rounds at each store. Additionally, she says, don’t forget that there are always homemade gifts you can create for your loved ones.
Lots And Lots of Drinking
Especially for those who don’t drink, going to party after party where there’s a constant supply of alcohol can be a bit stressful.
If you’re going alcohol-free this holiday season, or you simply want to take a break from drinking at one of your parties, Poag recommends bringing unique non-alcoholic drinks, and/or going to the celebration with a friend or family member who knows you’re trying to steer clear of booze, as they can help support you if things feel a bit awkward when someone hands you a glass of champagne.
Remember, says Poag, you aren’t obligated to drink something just because the host offered it, or even just because everyone else is drinking. Do you, and enjoy yourself.
Not Getting Enough Time For Yourself
So many parties, so many obligations, so little time.
For this reason, says Leahy, it’s important to intentionally find opportunities for self-care throughout the holiday season. "Be sure to make time for it," she explains. "Make a date, schedule the time, and do what you need to take care of yourself during this hectic time."
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