From reuniting with family and friends to turning over a new leaf come New Year’s Day, the holiday season is a joyous and exciting time of year. But with shopping to do, gifts to wrap, travel arrangements to make, parties to plan, and holiday meals to prep, the holiday season can be just as stressful as it is joyful.
A little stress every now and then can give you an extra kick of motivation on, say, gym day, but feeling stressed day after day can lead to physical and mental health problems. Even worse, stress can easily lead you to find refuge in one too many glasses of wine at the next holiday party or family gathering. It doesn’t help that alcohol is in abundance during the holiday season.
Alcohol may feel relaxing when the buzz kicks in, but it can actually worsen and prolong stress. In turn, stress reduces the effects of alcohol, causing you to drink more.
Beat stress this holiday season by learning how to prevent stress and to effectively manage stress without turning to alcohol:
- Take time to relax. Make time for yourself over the next few weeks and explore different forms of relaxation that don’t involve alcohol. Try meditation, yoga, regular exercise, deep breathing, treating yourself to a massage, soaking in a warm bath, writing in a journal, or spending down time with people you love.
- Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute to go gift shopping or plan your holiday meal. Plan your menus, then make a list. Make a gift shopping list, too. Foresee crowded roads, stores, and parking lots by leaving extra early.
- Stick to a budget. Avoid financial stress by being realistic about what you can afford.
- Don’t overload yourself. Only take on what you can handle and what interests you. It’s ok to say no if you have enough on your plate.
- Be flexible. Sometimes things don’t go the way we planned. Understanding that and staying flexible can help you get through unexpected situations.
- Stay in the present. Focusing on what you’re doing in the moment will keep your mind from wandering into worry-ville. This is especially important to remember when you’re doing something that requires nothing more than for you to enjoy yourself.
- Take care of yourself. Maintain a nutritious diet, get plenty of sleep, and stay active.
- Stay social. It’s easy to go into hiding when there’s so much to do, but spending time with family, friends, and loved ones can save you from feeling lonely.
- Reach out. If you feel stressed, lonely, or anxious, talk to a friend, a family member, or a professional. Sometimes simply talking can help you release those feelings.