The holiday season, which spans from November through early January, is a time of thanksgiving, celebrating with family and friends, renewing and re-committing to our values, and cultivating our sense of community. If the holiday season is such a joyous time, how is it that we tend to become so stressed?
One major cause of stress during the holidays is doing too much, which can be draining. Consumer report polls after the holidays in 2010 revealed how much time Americans spent on the holidays. Americans shopped for gifts for approximately 15 hours followed by an additional 3.5 hours waiting in check-out lines to purchase the gifts. Americans dedicated about 3 hours to wrapping gifts and 1 hour returning/exchanging gifts. Americans reported spending about 15 hours at holiday parties/gatherings and approximately 7.4 hours traveling to and from their holiday destinations.
During the holidays, the line between spending quality time with family and having alone time is blurred. Too much togetherness can be a source of stress. On the other hand, for people who are not close with their families, loneliness and not enough togetherness may trigger stress. Overindulging by eating and drinking (alcohol) too much may lead to weight gain, which may cause stress during the holidays. In 2011, Americans spent between $250 and $1,000 during the holiday season. Spending too much money in a short span of time can be a large source of stress, especially during economically difficult times.
So, how do we handle the stress so that we can enjoy the holidays? Here are some inexpensive and/or free self-care and stress relief ideas that will not hurt your wallet:
· De-clutter a room.
· Eat fruits and veggies.
· Participate in service: volunteer or make something to donate.
· Read a book for pleasure.
· Pick a few upbeat songs and take a dance break.
· Take a bubble bath (maybe light some candles too).
· Rent a movie to watch.
· Buy yourself flowers.
· Do deep-breathing exercises or meditate (use a positive mantra).
· Sip something soothing like coffee or tea.
· Do something creative: draw, paint, color, collage.
· Write letters or cards to family/friends.
· Give yourself a manicure and/or pedicure at home (use exfoliating scrub, lotion, and polish).
· Turn your home into a spa with candles and relaxing music. Give yourself a facial at home.
· Make a gratitude list (what are you thankful for…no matter how big or small)
· Enjoy fresh air and take a walk.
· Forgive yourself.
· Buy yourself balloons.
· Snuggle with a pet or your partner.
Happy Holidays! Take gentle care.
If Holiday stress is overwhelming for you, or if you are having life challenges of any kind, one of our Denver, Boulder, or Littleton therapists can help. Give us a call at 303-393-0085 or visit us on the web at www.foundationsfamilycounseling.com and we can help you take the first step toward navigating the stress in your life.
~ Jennie Tuttle, LPC
Resources used to write this blog: