The holiday season is almost here. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, heralding the start of festivities that will extend into the first week of January. To many, the holidays are synonymous with happiness, togetherness, and celebration. Whether you look forward to Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas, or other holidays, this time of year holds special significance the world over. Yet, holiday stress looms, threatening to derail our collective sense of joy.
Is holiday stress real? By all indications, yes. In 2019, almost 40% of Americans said they would skip the holiday season if they could. Meanwhile, 45.5% of Americans said that shoppers caused the most stress during the holidays. Not surprisingly, parents of young children reported high levels of holiday stress: 27% begin to feel stressed in November!
According to another 2019 study, 88% of people find the holidays to be the most stressful part of the entire year, with 49% of respondents saying that the accumulated stress makes it impossible to enjoy the festivities.
Below, we explore the reality of holiday stress and discuss holistic approaches to help you survive the holidays and enjoy time with your family.
What Causes Holiday Stress?
A 2015 Healthline study found the top three reasons for holiday stress were finances (47%), staying on track with health goals (16%), and selecting the “perfect” gift (15%). In 2020, the world has evolved in complexity, and people are subject to a wider range of stressors than ever before.
Some pain points never change, however. The holidays are expensive. Last year, the average American household spent $942 per person on gifts alone. That didn’t include the cost of holiday celebrations. Personal finances are a concern, and for many consumers, Black Friday adds to holiday stress — flash deals sell out in seconds, not minutes.
From a qualitative standpoint, conflict in interpersonal relationships is a top stressor during the holidays. At its core, stress is an emotional response to tense, dangerous situations. Yet, family get-togethers have a way of eliciting a similar response.
The problems start with travel. Airport delays and highway traffic intensify the holiday rush. Meanwhile, personality clashes around the dining table magnify the stress factor.
We choose friends, spouses, and significant others based on shared values, but we can’t choose our family members. Differences in opinion, especially regarding politics, are unavoidable. Given this year’s highly-contentious election, the 2020 holiday season will be a challenge for families with different political alignments.
For some, stress and anxiety are the product of deeper issues. The end of another year may accent feelings of negative self-worth or a lack of accomplishment. For others, mood disorders come into play. More than three million adults in the United States are diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder annually. They experience overwhelming symptoms during the winter months.
Whatever your challenges, it’s clear that holiday stress affects many. This year, there’s an additional factor to consider.
COVID-19: A New Wrinkle in the Holiday Equation
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic promises to multiply holiday stress across the board. Social distancing measures, coupled with business closures, threaten the holiday shopping tradition.
Family get-togethers are also in peril, due in part to travel concerns and quarantines. A growing number of families are taking a page out of the business world’s emergency response playbook by hosting Thanksgiving dinner over Zoom. However, that brings a new level of stress to the equation. For the first time in their lives, many adults will have to contend with loneliness and isolation this holiday season.
Even if your family is still planning a get-together, COVID-19 has deepened the political divide. Tensions prevail, tainting all social discourse and precipitating a tribalism that threatens unity. The pandemic underscores almost every issue in an already heated political atmosphere.
Notwithstanding the deepening polarization in the country, there’s still hope for reclaiming the holidays.
Americans have always transcended their challenges. As society evolves, new problems inevitably arise. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, your holidays can still be stress-free. Below, we explain how.
15 Ways To Deal with Holiday Stress
In reality, holiday stress is “death by a thousand cuts.” It’s an accumulation of many factors that compound your misery. The silver lining? There are many ways to help you thrive this holiday season. Here are 15 of our favorites.
The human body was designed to move. According to the American Psychological Association, 40% of people say that exercise makes them feel happy, while 32% say it actively reduces their stress level. Physical health has a cascading effect on mental health; it’s intimately linked to a sense of wellbeing.
Exercise helps the brain release neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, which promote happiness and contentment. It also helps increase the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the brain, boosting your energy level, focus, and mental acuity.
With the busy holiday rush, it’s easy to slip into an attitude of complacency. But, staying active can boost your mood and counterbalance increased caloric intake. There’s a reason “get ready for swimsuit season” returns 28,900,000 results in Google — physical inactivity and too many holiday desserts can contribute to (unwanted) weight gain. So, make time for exercise this holiday season. You’ll love the results!
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
Food is undeniably one of the biggest draws of the holiday season. With juicy turkeys and decadent pies on the table, it’s easy to over-indulge. Many a diet has been derailed in late November, launching into free fall until the new year.
That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself — just indulge in moderation. Make sure delicious, sugar-laden holiday treats are supplemented by lean meats, fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
You don’t have to relegate yourself to tofu and brown rice every day, but a diet rich in magnesium, vitamin C, and omega 3 fatty acids can help the body regulate cortisol production. Eating a balanced diet is a great way to fight stress and thrive this holiday season.
3. Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption
For many, alcohol is a key part of holiday celebrations. Whether it’s brandy by the fire or a little rum in the eggnog, there’s something about the holidays that makes the wine flow more freely.
Alcohol is a depressant, however, which makes it a poor stress reliever in the long-run. It also causes the brain to release dopamine. Over time, chronic drinking actually leads to the depletion of dopamine. This results in more cravings for alcohol to reproduce previous feelings of euphoria.
While a glass of red wine can help heart health, managing your alcohol intake helps reduce overall stress.
4. Maintain Healthy Sleep Patterns
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep. It helps the body repair damage to muscle tissues and reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Being in a state of persistent stress has a real-world effect on the nerves similar to inflammation.
It also has a tangible effect on blood pressure and physical wellbeing. Getting yourself on a healthy sleep cycle allows the body to repair itself. Essentially, getting a good night’s sleep is essential for managing long-term holiday stress.
5. Be Generous
Stress is a survival instinct; it causes us to focus on the inward self and be reactive. The holidays often inspire an altruistic sense of giving, however. Donating material gifts in any form to a charitable organization is one way to give. Volunteering our time is another. The simple act of baking cookies for a neighbor or sending seasonal cards to friends turns our focus outward, breaking us out of survival mode.
6. Take Time to be Thankful
If you do feel the need to turn inward, make sure it’s under the guise of wellness. Taking a moment to focus on the positive aspects of the holiday season can help you realign your point of view. So, practice being thankful this holiday season. It can be an incredible stress reliever.
7. Pace Yourself
If you’re a social person, holiday stress comes from the barrage of commitments the holiday season brings. Between work parties, family celebrations, school functions, and friendly get-togethers, the holidays can elevate our stress levels. To help mitigate anxiety, respect your limitations.
It’s been said before, “The holidays are a marathon, not a sprint.” Learn to pace yourself to avoid mid-December burnout. It’s important for your own wellness that you learn how to say “no” and only take on the commitments you can handle.
8. Plan Ahead
The chaotic holiday rush often increases our stress levels. Engagements fill our calendar, and new ones pop up at the last minute. Going into the holiday season with a plan can mitigate the stress of the unknown. This holiday season, check out the online sales in early November to get a jump on the holiday shopping. With a little planning, your sense of mental well-being will skyrocket.
9. Be Easy on Yourself
Going into the holiday season with a solid game plan can certainly help alleviate stress. But, remember that plans can change due to unforeseen circumstances. While you have to be prepared, you also have to be adaptable. And, if things don’t go according to plan, be kind and forgiving to yourself. Holiday stress is often the result of unreasonable expectations. Forgiveness smooths the waters and helps eliminate tension.
10. Pick Your Battles
When politics or the subject of COVID-19 comes up at the dinner table, as they undoubtedly will, remember that you don’t have to engage with aggressive viewpoints. Pick your battles. The need to be right shouldn’t usurp your mental wellness.
Stress is a fight-or-flight response that’s hardwired into us. Humans are blessed with the willpower and self-awareness to override that dynamic and make purposeful, healthy choices.
11. Take Time for YOU
There will be a million obligations to take up your time and attention during the holidays. Remember to carve out some time for self-care. We all need to recharge our batteries regularly — it’s essential to our physical and mental wellbeing. This holiday season, remember to take a moment to disengage from the rat race, and spend time pursuing activities that refill your bucket.
12. Get Yourself a Gift
The holiday season is a time for giving. After you’ve taken the opportunity to practice charity towards others, be sure to take care of yourself. If you become overwhelmed with a plethora of mixed emotions, get yourself a gift for all your hard work. Think of it this way: the gift will be perfect. No one understands you better than yourself!
13. Look Forward
“This too shall pass.” Truer words have never been spoken. When you stop and take a look at the big picture, the holiday season is only two months out of the year. Once January hits, it will all be over. Looking for the light at the end of the tunnel gives you a positive focal point that helps break you out of a stressful feedback loop.
14. Live in the Moment
No matter what happens this holiday season, remember that it’s a time for celebration. Despite the multiplicity of stressors, unexpected joy awaits. You just have to look out for it. Even in the midst of the chaotic rush, take a minute to step back and relish the pleasure of the experience. Living in the moment is an unmatched feeling and one that can supercharge your joy.
15. Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil
Living a well-balanced life is a natural stress reliever in and of itself. Finding the perfect balance between obligations and personal time goes a long way toward mitigating anxiety.
Sometimes, holistic lifestyle changes aren’t sufficient by themselves. To help foster a sense of wellbeing this holiday season, consider adding natural products like Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil to your daily routine.
Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil is extracted from the entire hemp plant using a combination of gentle extraction methods that don’t alter the purity or strength of the resulting product. Because Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil uses the hemp plant in its entirety, it’s filled with beneficial CBD oils as well as more than 100 powerful cannabinoids, medicinal terpenes, and flavonoids.
Meanwhile, CBD in Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil can help your body handle mood imbalances. It can also alleviate chronic physical discomfort, high blood pressure, and other mood-related disorders. Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil can promote calm this holiday season, and it also makes the perfect gift for friends and loved ones looking to reduce their stress levels.
Holiday Stress Relief
The holiday season shouldn’t compound our deepest worries and fears; it should be a time for unity and celebration. While holiday stress can seem overwhelming, a few adjustments can add to your enjoyment of the season.
Synchronicity’s ™ Full-Spectrum Hemp Oil and CBD products are here to help you navigate the busy times ahead. We offer a full line of stress relievers including tinctures, salves, topicals, and aromatherapy products to help you thrive this holiday season. For more information on our full product line, please contact us today. Read our article on beating stress naturally for even more tips on reducing stressors and agitation.