Stressful Holidays?: 7 Tips for Facing Holiday Stress

couple stress free holiday shopping

The holiday season, a blend of joy and stress, unfolds as an intense time for active adults. Amid the festive cheer, these individuals encounter unique challenges that can overshadow the joyous atmosphere. From familial expectations to the pressure of creating the perfect celebration, the season brings its own set of stressors. However, within these challenges lies the promise of effective strategies to combat stress and ensure a more enjoyable holiday experience. Join us as we set the stage for exploring specific ways active adults can navigate the complexities of the season and improve their quality of life, fostering well-being and resilience in the face of holiday stress. As we delve into those actionable tips, it will become more and more evident that there are so many practical approaches for our demographic to not only survive but thrive during this festive time.

Holiday Misconceptions

The aspiration for a perfect holiday season, adorned with the warmth of friends, the embrace of family, and the jubilation of festivities, is a shared sentiment among all older adults. It stems from a genuine desire to create lasting memories and experiences. However, beneath the surface of these aspirations lie common stressors intricately linked to the expectations attached to the holiday season. The pressure to orchestrate flawless gatherings, curate impeccable meals, and foster an atmosphere of unblemished joy can, paradoxically, lead to heightened stress and anxiety.

The Reality of Imperfect Holidays

Delving into the reality of the holiday season unveils a tapestry of stress and anxiety woven by the intricacies of family dynamics, societal obligations, and the pursuit of perfection. Many Clinical psychologists have astutely highlighted a singular underpinning factor—our expectations of what the holidays should be. These expectations, whether self-imposed or influenced by societal norms, contribute significantly to the stress experienced during this festive period. The intricate dance of familial relationships and the pressure to meet societal standards often lead to a dissonance between the idealized holiday and the imperfect reality.

In emphasizing the contribution of expectations to holiday stress, those in the mental wellness industry have provided us with insight into the psychological underpinnings of the challenges faced by active adults. Acknowledging these realities becomes a pivotal step in developing strategies to navigate the holiday season successfully, fostering a sense of resilience and well-being. By recognizing the imperfections inherent in holiday celebrations, active adults can pave the way for a more authentic, enjoyable, and stress-reduced festive experience.

7 Tips for Coping with Holiday Stress

Navigating family gatherings, societal expectations, and the desire for perfection can be overwhelming. However, there are practical strategies to cope with holiday stress and foster a sense of well-being.

1. Check Your Expectations

The first step in managing holiday stress is to check and understand your expectations. It's natural to want a perfect holiday, but unrealistic expectations can lead to unnecessary stress. Encourage yourself to shift the focus towards gratitude. Instead of fixating on perfection, appreciate the moments of joy and connection with loved ones. Understanding what you can and cannot control helps create a more realistic and enjoyable holiday experience.

2. Make Self-Care a Priority

Prioritizing physical and mental well-being is crucial during the holiday season. Self-care goes beyond pampering and includes essential habits like getting enough sleep, nourishing your body with healthy foods, and incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Many wellness experts emphasize that even just 30 minutes of walking a day can positively impact mood. Consider this blog for tips on staying active during the holiday.

3. Don’t Bottle Up Your Feelings

Acknowledging and expressing your emotions is vital during the holidays. Many individuals find solace in journaling or talking to friends and family. The holiday season can evoke a range of feelings, from joy to nostalgia or even sadness. Writing down your thoughts or discussing them with someone you trust can help process these emotions, leading to a healthier mental state. Face-to-face interactions, as supported by research from the Oregon Health and Science University, contribute significantly to emotional well-being.

4. Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing is a powerful and accessible stress reliever. Harvard researchers found that controlled breathing can slow down the heartbeat, reduce stress hormones, and trigger the relaxation response. Incorporate deep breathing exercises into your daily routine, especially during moments of stress. Simply find a quiet space, sit comfortably, and focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply. Including this small but important tip can contribute a tremendous amount to the overall holistic effect to your holiday wellness.

5. Know Your Limits

Excessive drinking during the holidays can exacerbate stress and contribute to health issues. Research from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons links heavy drinking to an increased risk of high blood pressure. To manage both heart health and holiday stress, limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Being mindful of your limits helps ensure a healthier and more enjoyable holiday season.

6. Do Something for Someone Else

Practicing kindness not only benefits others but also positively impacts your own mental well-being. Engage in acts of kindness, whether it's volunteering at a local organization, helping a neighbor, or surprising a loved one with a thoughtful gesture. Research suggests that being kind releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin, contributing to an improved mood. Small, meaningful actions can create a ripple effect of positivity, making the holiday season more fulfilling.

7. CBD as a Stress-Reducing Option

For active adults, considering CBD as a stress-reducing option during the holidays is worth exploring. CBD, derived from the cannabis plant, has gained attention for its potential therapeutic properties. It interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating stress responses. CBD is known for its calming effects and may help manage stress and anxiety without the psychoactive effects of THC. As a natural remedy, CBD aligns with the wellness goals of active adults, offering a potential solution to ease holiday-related stress. Always consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating CBD into your routine.

The holiday season for active adults is a nuanced blend of joy and stress, with unique challenges ranging from familial expectations to societal pressures. This dynamic period, filled with both aspiration and reality, necessitates practical strategies for a more enjoyable experience. The insights gained only underscore the significance of managing expectations, a critical step toward navigating the complexities of the season. Acknowledging imperfections and embracing realistic perspectives becomes a cornerstone for resilience and well-being.

The seven actionable tips presented are just a starting point for coping with holiday stress and we understand that not everyone is the same so we recommend exploring as many options as possible until you find what works for you. From prioritizing self-care and expressing emotions to practicing kindness and exploring potential stress-relief options like CBD, active adults can proactively shape their festive experience.

As you embark on your holiday journey, the realization that imperfections are inherent in celebrations becomes a liberating factor. By incorporating these practical strategies, individuals can cultivate a more authentic, enjoyable, and stress-reduced festive experience, aligning with their holistic wellness goals. In the spirit of gratitude, kindness, and self-care, active adults can usher in the holiday season with resilience and a renewed focus on well-being.

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1 comment

So true. The holidays are suppose to be the best time of the year…
Good tips to keep us grounded.

Susan Newendorp

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