Who doesn’t love the holidays? The pretty lights, the good food, the presents – it’s such a magical time of year.
Isn’t it? Well, the truth is that for a lot of people, Christmas can be very challenging. Some people who struggle with pre-existing mental health issues, those who are grieving the loss of a friend or a family member, or those who are simply more prone to stress than others can find Christmastime to be a huge trigger.
Christmas stress is very real and can be difficult to face. Many factors lead to anxiety and stress during this season. You will feel the rush and pressure toward certain events that you plan to attend.
It can be even more challenging to know how to reduce Christmas stress. What makes the whole thing even more complicated is that Christmas is supposed to be fun! It should be a pleasurable experience and time for you and the people surrounding you.
People can make their own Christmas stress even worse by fighting with themselves over why they feel the way they do during what’s supposed to be the happiest time of year.
Luckily, if you’re wondering how to deal with Christmas stress, there are ways to help this problem and allow you to enjoy the holidays.
Read on for some Christmas stress relief tips to help you out this year.
Defining Holiday Stress
Stress occurs when our brain secretes a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol prepares your body to respond to danger or threats. While this is useful sometimes, in many situations, it can make an already challenging time of year even worse.
This stress can be triggered by a variety of things. Everyone is different and experiences different reactions to various stressors. But one important thing to remember is that when it comes to holiday stress, you’re not alone. A study by Healthline found that 62% of people who participated in their survey find the holidays to be at least somewhat stressful.
How to deal with Christmas stress is one of the most challenging parts of experiencing it. Those who struggle with it have to slog through the holidays with this stress, making what is supposed to be a joyous time of year incredibly difficult.
The Effects of Christmas On Mental Health
Even though Christmas is supposed to be all about spending time with family and friends, eating good food, and sharing gifts, there are many things about this holiday that can trigger stress.
This is especially true for people already struggling with mental health problems like depression. Depression can often be exacerbated by the holidays, and it makes sense.
Think about it – people who struggle with depression question the value of their existence and find it difficult to feel hopeful and positive.
These feelings can get even worse around the holidays, as everyone around you is happy and cheerful, which might remind you of how worthless and sad you feel.
For people who struggle with addictions, holiday stress can bring its challenges. For many families, alcohol is a big component of celebrating.
If you are battling alcoholism or addiction, the holidays and the time leading up to them can be extremely stressful.
Some people generally struggle more with stress than others. The holidays can have a lot of expectations. If you’re hosting a gathering, that means being in charge of food, cleaning, decorating, and hosting your event. While some people find these tasks easy and even fun, others don’t take them as well and find them deeply stressful.
Tips to Alleviate Christmas Stress
If you’re wondering how to reduce Christmas stress, you’ve come to the right place. Take these tips and you are on your way to lesser stress.
Here are a few Christmas stress relief tips:
One of the Christmas stress relief tips is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being in the moment instead of what might happen. There are breathing techniques you can try to help yourself stay present and keep your brain from running off towards the “what-ifs.”
Another thing to do when learning how to reduce Christmas stress is to recognize that when it comes to the holidays, it’s okay to say no. Oftentimes, we don’t say no because we don’t want to disappoint people.
This is especially true during the holidays, which are supposed to be a fun and uplifting time. But when we say yes to everything that comes our way, that means we’re overloading ourselves with responsibility.
And the more we overload ourselves, the more stressed we become, and the less enjoyable the holidays become for us.
Stressing out too much can lead to issues like anxiety, and some people even experience a mental breakdown during the holidays due to stress.
It’s so important to recognize your limits. Understand how much and what exactly you’re willing to do, and set those boundaries.
Don’t force yourself to go to every Christmas party you’re invited to. It’ll only stress you out and make the holidays that much less enjoyable. Instead, use these techniques so that you know how to reduce Christmas stress.
Stress and Christmas
All of the planning and preparation that goes into Christmastime can be overwhelming. Even though the holidays are meant to be fun and full of love and happiness, there’s no denying that there’s a fair amount of responsibility that comes with it. All of this responsibility can pile up and make you feel like you’re about to have a mental breakdown.
If you need to know how to deal with Christmas stress, there are a few ways to relieve stress.
Remember to follow these Christmas stress relief tips, like practicing mindfulness, setting boundaries, and saying no. They won’t eliminate your stress – that’s impossible. But they’ll make your stress easier to manage.
Depression and Christmas
Like stress, depression is very common during the holidays. Many times, stress can lead to depression.
It’s important to try and get a handle on your stress right away before it starts triggering feelings of depression. The best way to combat depression caused by Christmas stress is by being proactive. Set your boundaries for yourself. Practice mindfulness. And try to get in enough exercise.
Also, remember that depression and stress can be exacerbated by the season. During winter, the days are shorter, colder, and we want to stay inside more.
Some people are prone to a condition called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. You may need to be more mindful of your mental health during the winter months, especially as the holidays approach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Christmas and the holidays can bring up a lot of difficult feelings. Left unchecked, these feelings can lead to a severe mental breakdown.
To help reduce holiday stress, it's important to find ways to be calm. This is easier said than done, of course. Stress is an inevitable part of life, but there are ways to help deal with it.
Here are a few more Christmas stress relief tips to help you get through the holidays:
One thing you can try doing if you don't know how to deal with Christmas stress is spreading out your Christmas events a little more. While it might seem tempting to schedule all your Christmas events right around December 25th, having too much to do at once will very quickly overwhelm you.
Instead, reduce holiday stress by spreading your events out more. You can schedule a few for the beginning of December or January, or even in November. By spacing them out more, you won't feel so rushed going from one event to another.
You might also want to consider common discussion points at these gatherings. More than ever, it seems like the world is in turmoil. And while discussing this with friends and family can be helpful, for many people they only add to the holiday stress.
Consider banning any talk of politics, Covid-19, or anything that you know might turn into an argument. You can let your guests know, politely, of course, that these are topics you're not willing to discuss and that you'd prefer them left at home.
Hopefully, this will reduce holiday stress when it comes to potential arguments during Christmas.
Finally, many people find the gift-giving part of Christmas to be stressful. If you don't want to deal with gifts at all, reach out to your friends and family and discuss the possibility of a gift-free party to reduce Christmas stress.
If you still want to give gifts, make sure to set yourself up for success by getting your shopping done as early as possible.
You may even want to call stores ahead to ask about the availability of certain items before you even head out. This way you'll know what's available, and you can plan around anything that's sold out.
This is a difficult question to answer, as different people are stressed out by different things. Anyone can have a mental breakdown, and the reasons why it happens are vast.
Dealing with familial changes can be a trigger for stress, so can worrying about the current state of the world. Some people are simply more prone to stress than others. It’s important that you know how to deal with Christmas stress. Planning and preparing for the holidays can seem like a monumental challenge if you're one of those people.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter why you experience Christmas stress. What matters is that you are stressed and that you need to find healthy ways to cope with it. Remember that sometimes getting too bogged down in the why can stop you from fixing the issue at hand.
So, take a breath. Reread all the above tips to help yourself reduce holiday stress. And remember that you're not alone.
For some people, the number of things to do alone during this time of year is enough to trigger Christmas stress. For other people, pre-existing mental or physical health conditions can make feelings of stress worse.
For many people, the year 2020, in particular, has been extremely stressful, especially when you consider that we are currently living through a pandemic. Add that to the amount of planning, cooking, hosting, money, and socializing that the holidays entail, and it's no wonder that people tend to get stressed out because of the holidays.
If you have recently experienced the loss of a friend, family member, or pet, the holidays might seem daunting.
Grieving is a complicated process, and the stress of losing a loved one can feel even more prominent around the holidays. If you're currently dealing with grief and loss, the most important thing is to allow yourself to mourn this holiday season. This is a big change in your life, and probably a very painful one.
If you don't give yourself the care you need, a mental breakdown could be just around the corner. So, make sure you're practicing plenty of self-care.
Spend time with your friends and family remembering the person you lost to avoid Christmas stress. Reach out to your support network, and most importantly, be there for each other in memory of the person you have lost.
Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, affects many people. Generally, this condition occurs in the wintertime, as days get shorter.
The science behind SAD is still debated. Some scientists believe that it is caused by hormones that are triggered during certain parts of the year. It could also be that the lack of sunlight during the winter leads to less serotonin being released by your brain.
Whatever the reason, SAD is a very common disorder affecting millions of people. It is treated the same way depression is treated, which includes mindfulness, antidepressants, and other healthy coping mechanisms.
Even though the holidays are touted as the happiest time of year. For many people, they are a source of stress and, on occasion, even a mental breakdown. If you’re one of those people, don’t worry—you’re not alone.
There are plenty of ways to help reduce holiday stress. This includes mindfulness, setting boundaries for yourself, and reaching out to others when you need help. By doing these things, you’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms that will help you get through the holidays.