Holidays are times of the year that can be completely magical or triggering for some people. Whether it is a loss in the family, the pandemic and the financial impact, family drama, and so on—it can make the holidays not so enjoyable. NAMI states: “High expectations, loneliness and stress can lead to the “Holiday Blues” during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year. In most cases symptoms are temporary, but they can be serious if they last for more than two weeks, leading to clinical anxiety and/or depression.” It is important to check on your loved ones during this time because the holiday blues can often be confused by the general stress of the holidays. So what are some great ways to manage stress during the holidays?

Plan Ahead 

Especially if you are traveling, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions can make it more difficult to travel on public transportation. Make sure you plan ahead by looking at state and the individual city guidelines to see what you need to do prior to visiting. If you are not fully vaccinated yet, you could face difficulties traveling to cities like New York City and Philadelphia so please be aware. Pack your bags in advance, pack your medicine in a travel system, pack your toiletries, do whatever you can to lower the amount of pressure before traveling. If you are not traveling this holiday season, prepare your meals for the holidays. You can find in this guide how to plan ahead for Thanksgiving dinner from Southern Living! Ask for help if you can or you can even change it up this holiday season by hosting a potluck where each person brings something! 

Make It About Family and/or Friends

If you do not have the financial ability to host or travel for the holidays, make it fun with friends or family that are closer to you! Go for a walk, go see a movie, eat a simple meal—the holidays are about spending time with families and friends. It is also important to not isolate yourself. If you have to work during the holidays, plan a small event in the break room! The upcoming Black Friday event can make it difficult for workers to enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday without thinking about the stress of work the next day. However, do your best to stay in the moment and breathe. You got this, and there are people here to help. 

Set Boundaries 

Although the holidays are all about spending it with your loved ones, boundaries can become nonexistent. At the dinner table, family members and friends can become invasive about asking about your work, school or personal life. You are not obligated to share that information with them if you are not comfortable. Make that clear and maybe even set boundaries beforehand—like no politics at the table. This way there, the dinner goes smoothly and no one becomes uncomfortable.

Be Yourself 

You are your best self when you are yourself. No matter what, remember that the holidays are not more important than your mental health. If you do not feel comfortable going to a family event, say no. If you want to stay home and watch a movie with friends, relax. The holidays, especially at this time of year can be overwhelming. Do what you need to take care of yourself, relax, practice self care, enjoy the holiday and be you.