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It’s that wonderful time of year again! You’re baking cookies with the kids, shopping for the perfect gift for your mother-in-law, and spreading the joy of the season. Yet, you just can’t figure out why you feel stressed to the max and at your wit’s end. Don’t worry; you’re not alone! Many people are right where you’re at, and it all comes with the holiday season.

There’s a lot that makes you feel stressed out during the holidays, including managing family expectations, gift buying, holiday budgets, and travel plans. Add in the fact that everyone is navigating a world with COVID-19, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for increased stress levels. At Brain Forest Centers, our number one mission is to help you get through not only this holiday season but through every season of life’s ups and downs. If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, here is your guide to dealing with holiday stress.

Why Holiday Stress is a Thing

For many, the holidays bring a mix of emotions, new challenges, thoughts, and even painful memories of the loved ones that have passed. Furthermore, there’s the added financial burden and even seasonal depression, which can increase during the winter months. There’s a lot that’s jam-packed into a few short weeks, and trying to get it all in can feel like an impossible task.

Symptoms of Holiday Stress

Many people often wonder if they’re experiencing holiday stress or just the change of the season. So, here are some symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Feelings of depression
  • Digestive issues
  • Jaw clenching or teeth grinding
  • Appetite changes

You may not experience all of these symptoms at once, but it’s still essential to understand your body and recognize the signs that you’re dealing with stress, especially around holidays.

Four Ways to Manage Holiday Stress

  1. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries under normal circumstances is hard, but it can be even more difficult during the holidays. While trying to please everyone, you have to learn to say no, especially when you feel yourself being stretched a little thin. Whether this means saying no to a few holiday gatherings or skipping this year’s neighborhood bake sale, learning to set boundaries will help you focus on other things this holiday season, like spending more time with the kids and your loved ones.

  1. Create Your Holiday Budget

Creating and sticking to a holiday budget is challenging, we know! But blowing your budget can leave you with a holiday spending hangover come the new year. So, if you’re struggling with managing your holiday stress, plan out your gift purchasing and stick to a budget for everyone. Better yet, agree with your other family members to only spend a certain amount, do a name exchange, white elephant, or only buy for the kids. There are plenty of creative ways you can go about making your holiday budget and sticking to it.

  1. Make a Gathering Plan

Gatherings this year will likely look a little different and may be a little smaller for many families. Still, that doesn’t mean you should forego having a plan. If you’re the family that travels, then this can only add to your holiday stress. Before the day arrives, make sure you, your partner, and your kids understand the plan and how long you’re staying for each gathering. You could even exchange the hours in the car with a FaceTime or Zoom holiday gathering, so everyone can still see each other and celebrate the day. Or, you could suggest moving some of the gatherings to another date, so you’re not stressed out trying to hit every family gathering in one day.

  1. Leave Some Time for Yourself

During the holidays, self-care often takes a backseat. However, we don’t encourage this since it’s not the best way to handle your holiday stress. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious, then that’s your body’s way of telling you it’s time to pamper yourself. Even if you only have 10 minutes, taking the time to focus on yourself will not only lower your stress level but will help you get through the entire holiday season with fewer lingering effects. It will also help you practice saying no (mentioned above). Saying no to someone else is saying yes to yourself and your needs.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

At some point over the next month or so, you’ll likely feel the effects of holiday stress. But that doesn’t mean you have to deal with things on your own. If you know that you have seasonal depression, anxiety, or aren’t feeling at the top of your game, let Brain Forest Centers help. We use neurofeedback therapy to help every superhero feel their best, no matter what is happening around them. We can even help you manage your holiday stress. Give us a call today at (317) 288-9828.