Some folks can handle holiday stress. Or even better, do not get stressed by the holidays at all – because they don’t allow it to happen. Like us! Simplify your life to eliminate most stress! A good mindset helps, too.

But there are people out there that can use a few tips. Below are some you can ponder and try out yourself.

Stressed by the holidays? Tips for navigating the pressures

Stressed by the holidays? Tips for navigating the pressures from 2 mental health pros

The holidays are a fun and cheerful season for most, but it can also be extremely stressful, especially given the many gatherings with friends, colleagues and family, and the pressures to have “the perfect holiday.”

Two Harvard-trained psychiatrists and authors, Dr. Carlin Barnes and Dr. Marketa Wills, offer these tips for all about how to best navigate the season so it is as enjoyable and peaceful as possible:

Stick to your routine

Though we focus on a holiday “season” (which now begins with Halloween and ends with the New Year), most days throughout the season are routine and normal. Be mindful of this and live in the moment, day-to-day. Stick to your normal routine when not celebrating the few special days.

Keep up with healthy diet and exercise habits

With all the extra parties and big meals, make sure to focus on a healthy diet and exercise routine, especially during this time of the year. Also, make sure to take a look at your extra alcohol intake which can be the result of (over) indulging at holiday gatherings or dealing with the stress and chaos of the holidays. Remaining balance on both fronts will keep stress at bay.

Don’t forget to sleep!

Holiday gatherings and events can crowd already busy schedules. Make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly, even if it means leaving a party early so you have enough time to rest and unwind.

Be mindful about gift-giving

Gift-giving is often an expression of love and brings great joy to both those who give and those who receive. But the expense and abundance of choices and “stuff” can be stressful. Be thoughtful about spending. Consider creative approaches to reducing total purchases such as pulling names out of a hat as a family so that each person gives one gift, and consider offering memorable experiences such as local day trips rather than giving “things.” You can also give the gift of time: taking a loved one shopping or helping tackle chores for a disabled family member.

Set a realistic budget

In this age of “keeping up with the Jones’s, it can be far too easy to overspend and go into debt for the holidays. This adds to stress. Our advice: set a realistic budget and stick with it. You will feel much more relaxed.

Keep your perspective on decorations and cards

If it brings you joy to go all out for holiday decorations and/or to mail out Christmas cards, go for it. But it seems like an obligation that’s too expensive or too hard to squeeze in, minimize or eliminate. The world will keep on turning…

Set good boundaries with family members

Old dynamics that are less healthy and less mature may surface. And since it is a stressful time of year, everyone may be on edge. Be mindful of the interactions you have and try to use mature and healthy coping mechanisms. Also, give yourself permission to skip family events if they make you uncomfortable.

Dr. Barnes and / Dr. Wills new book is Understanding Mental Illness: A Comprehensive Guide to Mental Health Disorders For Family and Friends.

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NJroute22 (site admin) is an avid traveler along NJ Route 22 (and almost all of central New Jersey!) Family man, pet lover, and property owner who has a natural curiosity for everything around.

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