By Edward Mugambi

Holidays can be stressful at times. For some people, it means buying gifts, preparing meals, contacting family and friends, decorating homes and recovering from it all. Most importantly, holidays bring mixed emotions for all of us, including the loss of people and rituals we no longer have in our lives. Of course, all of this happens while we continue to work on day-to-day issues like health, school and family. It is important to find a balance between all of these. 

The holiday season is upon us and brings with it changes in our daily lives. So, what can you do to relieve tension during these happy times? Here are some tips for coping with holiday stress:

  1. Aim to do good: Start by setting reasonable goals for yourself. Don’t expect everything to go so well. Allow yourself and others to be imperfect.
  2. Take some time off: If you plan to spend the holiday with family or friends, make sure you set aside some time for yourself. Go for a walk, run, read or call someone in another room. Even a few minutes of deep breathing in a quiet position can help relieve stress.
  3. Practice acceptance: when feelings of discomfort arise, encourage and understand them. Try taking a few deep breaths. Remember not to judge your thoughts and feelings. Then focus on your breathing again until you feel better.
  4. Respect your boundaries: During breaks, you will have plenty of time to ask questions. It’s good to be honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t do. Whether it’s socializing, taking care of others, or doing other things that make you feel good, you need to do more.
  5. Simplify: If your tradition is to give a gift, consider using the time to think of something to do together as a gift. Studies have repeatedly shown that interactions and relationships are better for our overall well-being.
  6. Remember the basics: sleep well, eat nutritious foods and snacks, drink plenty of fresh water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine. Plus, daily exercise has long been known to reduce stress. So if you have an exercise plan, stick to it. If you don’t, now is a good time to start. Start walking or doing yoga slowly and focus on a regular practice.
  7. If you’re on your own: Make specific plans for how you will use the time. You can use this opportunity to do things you wouldn’t normally have time for, such as read a novel you like, see a movie, attend a community event, etc. 

If you feel lonely but don’t want to be lonely, consider getting involved in local activities, such as volunteering at a local homeless shelter, or connecting with other groups that interest you. If volunteering doesn’t seem appropriate, consider texting someone you’d like to get to know better or attend a party.

Remember, there is a lot of love out there. Know that there is short-term therapeutic help and referrals to help you cope with holiday stress.