3 Ways to Avoid Stress This Holiday Season

 The holidays can be a very stressful time, even for the most relaxed of people. The preparation for Thanksgiving and the New Year is enough to make anyone feel a little overwhelmed. Adding in your family practicing Christmas or Hanukkah could set some people over the edge.
This year might be the first year in some time that you and your loved ones can gather together for the holidays, increasing the anxiety in this already stressful time. These tips will help you navigate the stress of the holidays and help you feel more empowered to enjoy the festive season.
Familial Stress
Families, while we love them, can be invasive, especially throughout the holidays. There are plenty of reasons family members can overwhelm us during this time of year, especially when conversations about sensitive topics like political views, COVID-19 concerns, or personal matters come up at the dinner table. If you feel like these issues could potentially come up with your family, these tips are for you.
My first tip is to set boundaries. Create a mental or written list of topics you’re not comfortable discussing throughout the holidays. To protect your wellbeing, include any topics you feel will bring up heightened emotions of anger or distress. If someone brings up one of those topics, you can choose to remove yourself from the discussion, politely ask to talk about this another time or attempt to change the subject yourself. Your boundaries are there for a reason and you do not need to explain why a discussion is off-topic today, family member or not.
An alternative suggestion would be to schedule holiday themed activities throughout the day that are time-consuming and distracting, but also memory makers. Ideas include card games, board games, holiday trivia, holiday charades and gift-giving games. These activities will engage even your most competitive family members and help keep the conversation off anxiety-inducing topics.
Financial Stress
The holidays are expensive. There are meals to prepare, presents that need to be purchased and wrapped and additional costs that come with this time of year. This year experts are warning that due to supply chain issues prices will be higher for high-demand goods such as Thanksgiving turkeys or this season's most popular toys. If you have existing financial stress, the holidays can intensify this. These tips can help you manage your finances this coming holiday season and in the seasons to come.
If you’re concerned about increased spending, consider suggesting a secret Santa or a Yankee swap of gifts. That way, you’re responsible for one gift within a predetermined price range, rather than a gift for each member of your family. This is an interactive way to exchange gifts and is guaranteed to leave your family with lasting memories.
An amazing ice tower I saw in Bangkok

The consequences of Covid-19 have caused new types of financial hardship in many families whether it be a sick family member or a lost job. If you feel like your financial situation needs greater intervention, consider refinancing your mortgage. This would allow you to lock in a lower interest rate, saving you thousands over time. This would also allow you to cash out your home equity which could be used to pay down debts incurred through the holidays and serve as a nice cushion in case of emergency during this holiday season.
To prepare for future holiday seasons, consider setting up a savings account where a portion of your income is funneled monthly. This way, when next November comes around you already have money appropriated for your holiday needs, and you wouldn’t need to dip into other expense accounts or accumulate debt on your credit card.
Food Stress
One of the most common stressors around the holidays is food. There is pressure to look your best yet enjoy all the large meals and sweets associated with these joyous days. Comments from family and friends about how much or how little you eat can be particularly hurtful. These tips will help you look and feel your best while enjoying all the holidays have to offer, including extra dessert.
Avoid the “new year, new me” mindset. This year, don’t wait until January first to hit the gym, instead start before the holiday season. Working out has many benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety. So not only will you be burning calories, but you’ll be practicing good habits that will improve your mood, too. Your workout doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective, so try walking a few days a week or go to pilates for a low-impact approach.
Dubai's always such a show-off

Practice mindful eating this holiday season. Meaning you should eat until you are full, not until you make yourself sick. If you are mid-meal and feel you are approaching your limit, take a break. I suggest saving your plate and heating it up later.
Avoid using food as a coping mechanism for your other stressors. Some healthier ways to deal with stress and anxiety include walking, coloring or speaking to a professional. There’s a plethora of resources to help those who are struggling with disordered eating around the holidays.
Use these tips to have your least stressful holiday season yet. If you feel like you or a loved one is struggling under undue stress, reach out to a professional. For some, this joyful time can be the most isolating. As this season draws near, remember to be kind to one another.
Shabana Feroze

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