4 Tips to Manage Holiday StressHannah Hippe
The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Dr. Karin Ryan, PsyD, LP, Clinic Director, and Outpatient Therapist.
The holiday season can be joyous and filled with memories, family time, and festive food. However, the holidays can also bring added stress. The cooking, shopping, decorating, socializing, and expectations for the season can be overwhelming, turning something that should be joyful into something that can be stressful.
So how can we set ourselves up to enjoy the holiday season vs. feeling like we can’t wait until it’s over? Keep reading to learn practical tips on managing holiday stress from Dr. Karin Ryan.
1. Set Intentional Time Aside
Carve out intentional time for holiday activities and intentional time for downtime. Set aside specific times for shopping, organizing, and wrapping presents. Plan activities ahead of time and space them out to decrease overwhelm. Don’t forget to also plan for relaxation and self-care. “Make sure you’re having that time off when you’re doing that self-care,” says Dr. Karin Ryan. Take time off to read, exercise, take a nap, and so on. Whatever fills your cup up and gives you a break.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Instagram may make the holidays look perfect and beautiful, but don’t get caught up in the highlight reel. Realize real life vs. social media to set realistic expectations for your holiday season. The spotless house, matching pajamas, and happy snowball fights are not always picture-perfect behind the scenes.
Related: Social Media and Mental Health: What’s the Impact?
It’s not that I want you to be a cynic, but sometimes when you watch those ads and you see those posts, be a cynic. Be like, that’s not really how it is. Because what it does, if you think it is, then you think you’re doing something wrong.
Instead, focus on what success would look like for you this holiday season. For example, maybe success for you looks like:
- If most say at the end of the day that they had a good time
- I connect with my family on three different days doing activities
3. Cope Ahead For Challenges
Remind yourself of what you can and cannot control during the holidays. For instance, we cannot control other people. We can make the perfect meal, but we cannot ensure everyone converses respectfully.
Rather, shift your mindset to focus on what you do have control over. “You get to choose what’s really important to you. You get to choose; am I worried about everyone having five presents, or am I worried about people hanging out and having fun?” Or, “Am I worried about how clean the kitchen is, or am I just worried about if we have fun together and I’m at peace?”
Related: How to Reset Your Mindset
4. Incorporate Radical Acceptance
If specific patterns always play out at each gathering or activity, prepare for them ahead of time. Dr. Karin Ryan suggests adding radical acceptance into your coping strategies to help. “When we have that radical acceptance, we’re not always trying to prevent it because then we’re anxious and stressed even more.” So, we can radically accept that certain things will happen and everything will be okay. We don’t have to stress ourselves out trying to prevent what is out of our control.
Related: What Radical Acceptance Is & How to Apply It in Your Life
Nystrom & Associates on Holiday Stress
Watch Dr. Karin Ryan on Twin Cities Live as she discusses her top tips for managing holiday stress.
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
Left unchecked, holiday stress can heavily impact your physical, emotional, and mental health. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression this holiday season, please reach out. You’re not alone, and there are people who want to support you. Nystrom & Associates offers individual, couples, and family therapy. Talk with us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online at our convenient locations.