The holidays are a merry time for many of us, but along with that comes the stress of planning, gift-giving and gathering with family members. Taking care of your mental health during this time of year is vital and that’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help you stay proactive in managing holiday stress.
Managing Difficult Family Conversations
Reuniting with family and friends during the holidays can be stressful when having to navigate around difficult conversations. Here are a few tips on how to engage in healthy conversations:
Find areas where you agree. You’ll find that topics in which you disagree will feel less intense once you find common ground.
Be open and kind. Avoid having conversations on sensitive topics when the day begins and before big get-togethers. Be mindful of your words and try to avoid personal attacks and offensive language.
Keep calm when tensions rise. Step back and take deep breaths as you feel tensions rising. It may also be a good idea to think about potential conversations and possible reactions beforehand to keep stress levels low.
Accept that you may not change the other person’s mind. Use conversations as an opportunity to share views, and steer away from trying to convince others that your view is correct.
Disagreeing with someone you care about is ok. It might be difficult to accept that people close to you have different views but it’s important to be open minded and listen to each other’s opinions.
Know when to end the conversation. A good way to deal with ending a conversation is by switching the topic or suggesting an alternative activity to engage in.
Be proactive. Plan activities to engage in throughout the day – this distracts from tense conversations and fosters a fun and loving environment.
Dealing with the Pressure of Gift Giving
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the need to find the right gift for everyone on your list, check out some of these tips:
Keep a holiday "to-do" list. Writing down your thoughts can help you keep track of what you need to do. Carry around a paper or pen, or type it on your phone.
Set realistic expectations. Instead of trying to take on everything, identify the most important holiday tasks and take small steps to accomplish them.
Recognize how you deal with stress. Become aware of your behaviors when you are stressed - do you engage in unhealthy behaviors? It is important to recognize these changes.
Take care of yourself. Make sure that during stressful times, you pay attention to your own needs. Partake in activities that are relaxing to you e.g. take a nap or go for a walk.
Ask for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress & strengthen your support network.
Dealing with Financial Stress
Managing your finances and learning how to budget can be tricky during the holidays. Here are some helpful tips:
Make one financial decision at a time. Plan your expenses ahead of time, and make financial decisions over time instead of making your purchases all at once.
Track your spending. Keep a daily list of how you spend your money or download an app on your phone to help you do this.
Identify your financial stressors and make a plan. Recognize where most of your family’s finances go towards and talk about ways in which you can reduce your expenses.
Avoid temptation. Limiting your time at shopping malls or on retail websites can help you manage spending. You can also prevent opportunities for impulsive spending in-person by leaving credit cards at home and only carrying a limited amount of cash.
Ask for support. The holidays are a great time to reconnect with family and friends. Building your support network can get you through tough financial times.
Text adapted from the American Psychological Association (APA)