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When the Holidays and Stress Collide

We are constantly reminded of how we “should” feel about the Holidays. We see images of happy shoppers, excited children, families and friends getting together, laughing, & sharing Holiday cheer.

Festive lights, wrapped presents under decorated Xmas trees, popcorn and classic movies, holiday parties all remind us that this is the time of year to feel happy and joyous.

And yet, along with the glitz and glamour, the romance and fan fair, the Holiday Season is one of the most stressful times of the year.

Facing long days and weeks at work leading up to the Holiday break, you’re not immune to the challenges the Holidays bring.

Increased social and family obligations, financial pressures, feelings of loss or loneliness, unrealistic expectations create the perfect storm to feel stressed, depressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Amidst all the challenges there are things you can do to ease the stress when you feel like you are colliding with the Holidays.

Here are 5 top tips and questions to support you in your journey to be well during the Holidays:

1. Manage Your Expectations:

Be realistic about what you can and can’t do given your schedule and the demands at work. Let go of what you “should” do, think and feel about the Holidays. If you’re a perfectionist, this is key. It’s unrealistic to think that the Holidays need to be perfect. Realistically, how much time and energy do you have to spend on preparing for the Holidays?

Don’t commit to activities or tasks you don’t think you can accomplish.

2. Acknowledge Your Feelings:

If you’re not used to listening to your feelings this top tip is important. When we stuff our feelings and ignore these important signals, we’re eventually made to pay attention. Is your anger sharper than you’d like? Are you crying or raising your voice more often and more easily these days? Are you withdrawing or acting out more? How’s your body feeling? It’s important to pay attention and acknowledge how you feel.

Talk with a friend, share with your family and let your partner know how it’s going for you right now. Check-in with your colleagues to let them know how you are feeling and how they can support you.

3. Get Support:

There’s no shame in getting support for the way you feel. In fact, acknowledging that you need support and seeking it out is an act of courage. Everyone benefits when we take responsibility for our stress, depression, anxiety and addictions.

Continue to go to counselling if you are already going, get to your support group meetings regularly over the Holidays, suggest alternative options to partying or activities that put you at risk for spiralling downwards, and don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it.

4. Take Control of Your Budget:

Are you stressed about money? Have you created a budget for the Holidays? Do you worry about not being able to give your family the gifts they’ve added to Santa’s list? Are you going into the Holidays and the New Year with debt or no clue about your financial situation?

It’s never too late to take stock and get help. Knowledge is power! Take some time to figure out how much money you have to spend during the Holidays. Then, make a commitment to stick within your budget. Financial and credit counselling is available through your EAP. Make it a New Years resolution to get your finances under control.

5. Balance and Self-Care:

We often use the Holidays as an excuse to overindulge and overdo it. Not only do we tend to eat and drink/drug too much, but we let exercise, meditation, alone time, sleep and quality time with loved ones fall by the wayside.

Overindulgence feels like freedom when we’ve spent so much time and energy working. Truthfully, overdoing it with food, alcohol/drugs, and parties takes a toll on our bodies, minds and often our relationships. How do you want to feel when you go back to work in the New Year?

Make healthy meals, get outside and walk, keep your exercise routine going, catch up on much needed sleep, find activities that have less of a focus on drinking/drugging, make the most of the time you have with your partner, family, & friends. Download a meditation app (see link below) to get you started on managing your mind and learning to relax.

We hope these tips and questions will get you thinking about how you can take control of the Holidays instead of letting the Holidays control you!

More than anything, we want you to know there’s help and support available. Don’t let the Holidays and Stress collide this year!

Counselling and crisis support are available through your EFAP and we’ve included some recommended Apps to help you manage stress & anxiety, help you meditate, breathe, change negative thoughts to positive ones and generally feel more in control.

Your EAP is available 24/7/365.


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