Lisa Hardesty, Ph.D.
Behavioral Health, Psychiatry & Psychology
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With the impending start to the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress and chaos that accompany the time of the year. Our already demanding lives become even more hectic, as additional shopping, cooking and spending combine to add even more anxiety. Often, for the majority of us, the end result can be overwhelming.
However, what if there was a way you could plan ahead to counter the stress? Unfortunately, the stress is coming despite our best desire to avoid it. Nevertheless, reduction of harm from that stress is possible. Instead of planning to de-stress from the inevitable, try to embrace the hectic holidays by prepping for a busy holiday season. Here are some helpful tips to make this holiday season the most relaxing and enjoyable yet.
Practice holiday resilience by asking yourself these questions:
- What resources do you need to feel confident about facing the upcoming fall/winter season?
- What do you want to be thinking about when you face the upcoming season(s)?
- What would you like to remember about this season after it’s done?
- If you knew this was your last fall/winter season, what would you prioritize?
- How can you use this to focus your efforts?
- What barriers to joy and happiness will you face during the upcoming months?
- What options do you have for overcoming these barriers?
Learn how to stay ahead of holiday stress and see it as a challenge rather than a threat.
Consider this a marathon and not a sprint. Practice slow, steady movements to approximate your desired behaviors and thoughts over time. Along the way, expect the unexpected as life rarely goes as planned. Allowing yourself flexibility in thinking and planning can go a long way towards fostering good health and well-being.
Try to view upcoming challenges as manageable based on the resources you have rather than a threat that must be changed or avoided. This builds up emotional and cognitive resources to assist you in facing those challenges.
Over time and with practice, you can strengthen your emotional muscle and find that challenges do get easier. Remember to think positive. For instance, if you tell yourself today is going to be a bad day, you’re more likely to experience a negative mood and feel overwhelmed. Instead, tell yourself that today is going to be a hard day, but you’ve tackled problems bigger than this in the past. Small changes matter and allow you to better prepare for the upcoming challenges of the holiday season.