‘Tis the season to be jolly, but not everyone finds the holiday season joyful. In this article, we’ll explore the causes of holiday stress and how to set boundaries to reduce that stress. Let’s dive in!
Understanding Holiday Stress
The holiday season, often associated with buying presents, bustling malls, cleaning the house, and preparing elaborate feasts, can be a stressful time. What should be a period of happiness and joy can easily turn overwhelming for many. This heightened stress often occurs when we find ourselves swamped with responsibilities and under immense pressure.
Common Causes of Holiday Stress and Overwhelm: Several factors contribute to holiday stress:
Family Conflict: While family gatherings can be heartwarming, they can also be tense and stressful when there are underlying conflicts within the family.
Work-Life Balance: Taking time off for celebrations and family visits is essential, but the demands of work don’t always slow down, leaving us feeling behind and guilty for taking time off.
Financial Struggles: The costs of gift-giving, travel, and festive feasts can strain our finances, leading to feelings of disappointment when expectations can’t be met.
Loneliness: Spending quality time with loved ones is a hallmark of the season, but for those without close relationships or dealing with strained ones, loneliness can be a significant source of stress.
Maintaining Health Habits: Amid the holiday rush, sticking to workout routines, dietary plans, or managing substance use can become challenging, potentially leading to relapses for some.
Tips to Alleviate Burnout and Stress: To combat holiday stress and burnout, consider these strategies:
Setting Boundaries: It may be tough, but setting boundaries is essential to prevent inner frustration and resentment. Agreeing to something simply to avoid guilt typically results in concealed inner frustration and resentment. Unfortunately, this pent-up resentment often remains unexpressed and unaddressed, primarily because you’re the one who initially agreed or said yes. This unspoken resentment can be incredibly detrimental to relationships, generating tension and emotional distance that leaves all parties confused about the underlying issues. If you are stuck in this predicament, strategies to help with setting appropriate boundaries will be shared over the next few weeks.
Prioritize: Determine which activities or gatherings are necessary and which are optional. Attend the latter based on your energy levels at the time.
Reschedule Events: If possible, reschedule events to create breaks between them, allowing you to decompress and enjoy each gathering.
Opt for Smaller Gatherings: Smaller groups can be less draining and overwhelming. Introverts may particularly benefit from this approach.
Find Balance: Schedule downtime and alone time between activities to strike a balance between self-care and social engagements.
In Conclusion: Holiday stress may be inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be unbearable. Decide what the holidays mean to you and manage your time while keeping your expectations realistic. If you find holiday stress overwhelming and unmanageable, don’t hesitate to seek support and help. Remember, the holidays should be a time of joy and connection, and you deserve to experience it as such.
Coping with holiday stress. CAMH. (n.d.). https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/coping-with-holiday-stress#:~:text=Family%20and%20friends%2C%20although%20supportive,cause%20you%20to%20become%20agitated.
Elizabeth Scott, P. (2022, December 6). How to manage the inevitable holiday season stress.
WebMD. (n.d.). Holiday Depression and stress. WebMD.