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By Fletcher Eaton, M.A.
Manager of the Employee Assistance Program
The holidays aren’t always just happy. They’re busy and stressful and maybe even a little sad too. If you find yourself rushing through this holiday season, checking off your to-do list, immersed in grief or simply overwhelmed by stress, you are not alone.
Nearly eight in 10 Americans report feeling increased stress over the holiday season. Almost a third say their physical and mental health worsen between the months of November and January, according to a Sleepopolis study.
But there is hope for managing everything the holidays bring. Here are some practical tips to keep in mind:
- Acknowledge your feelings. Sadness, stress or grief can be common during the holidays. Understand your feelings are normal and that it is OK to express them.
- Reach out or volunteer. Seek out social events with friends or in the community. Look for opportunities to serve in the church, through a charity, or by helping those less fortunate. Service to others can be very fulfilling and foster gratitude.
- Take care of yourself. This includes getting enough sleep, adequate exercise, proper nutrition, drinking enough water, and staying connected to social support systems.
- Be realistic. We often contribute to our own stress by taking on too many responsibilities, having unrealistic expectations, and having poor awareness of our own limitations.
- Take a breather. Set aside time for yourself to reduce stress and to clear your mind with activities like going for a walk, meditating/praying, exercising, listening to music, or something else that works for you.
Don’t let this holiday season cause you to feel fear and dread. Be proactive and take steps to prepare for the potential flood of sadness, grief and stress. Instead, grasp onto the hope, joy and peace of this holiday season.
“Hope is willing to leave unanswered questions unanswered and unknown futures unknown. Hope makes you see God’s guiding hand not only in the gentle and pleasant moments but also in the shadows of disappointment and darkness.” - Henri Nouwen