3 Stress-Busting Tips To Get You Through The Holidays

A clinical psychologist offers strategies to help navigate the most stressful time of the year.

Let’s face it – the holidays aren’t always the most wonderful time of the year. Whether you’re trying to find the time to prep for that big family dinner or navigate a jam-packed airport during delays, there’s plenty of seasonal stress to be had, says Richard Carpiano, a sociology professor at the University of British Columbia. While we may curse the number of social events we are tied to, having a strong community connection can help manage the pressure. “Research shows that social support is crucial for minimizing stress, and the holidays are no exception.” So keep that in mind if you’re dreading the annual office holiday party.

Dr. Katy Kamkar, a clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, offers these additional tips to help avoid holiday head banging.

If you’re feeling stretched

Time management is key for our daily lives, but it’s especially important during the holidays. Make lists and prioritize everything from social gatherings to shopping and meal prep.  Indecisiveness can lead to frustration or feeling overwhelmed. “Remind yourself that things do not have to be perfect in order to be good,” Kamkar says. “Accept things you can do versus things you cannot do. You might not be able to go to every event or buy every gift. That’s okay.”

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If you’re feeling lonely

This can be a difficult time if something traumatic occurred in past holiday seasons, or if people are suffering from illness, death of a loved one, or inability to be with loved ones, says Kamkar. “People can get upsetting memories and feel sad or isolated.” It’s important to find friends or seek social support, whether it’s through religious organizations or volunteering at a food bank. “Reaching out and helping others in need can provide a great sense of self-satisfaction.”

If you’re feeling the credit crunch

What is your budget? Set it now and stick to it. This doesn’t just include gifts, but anything related to the holidays – food, new clothes, décor and travel. Ask yourself what matters and cut out anything that doesn’t. “Indecisiveness can lead to feeling overwhelmed or frustration,” says Kamkar. “Leaving off financial decisions can not only increase stress during the holidays but also lead to post-holiday stress as well.”