Reclaiming Your Joy This Holiday Season

The Holiday season is known as the most wonderful time of the year. Decorations, food, friends and family, celebration, gifts ---- the holidays can be overwhelmingly good. What's not often discussed are the difficult emotions that many are experiencing.

During this time we’re pressured with conflicting demands. We’re expected to juggle our school and work commitments, time with loved ones, and holiday planning. There also may be added pressure to seem particularly cheerful and to suppress emotions like depression and anxiety.

According to Harvard Medical School, a 2015 survey done by Healthline shows that sixty-two percent of respondents reported elevated stress during the holidays. Many deal with these difficult emotions, and they don’t simply fade away come December. So how can we reclaim our joy this holiday season?

Here are 5 ways to cope with holiday stress.

  1. Know your stressors. Understand your stress and what it does to your body. Stress presents itself in many ways, and feels differently for every individual. Reflect on and identify the areas in your life where your difficult emotions may present themselves. Will you be entering any stressful situations during this holiday season? It’s important to identify the causes of your stress, so you can begin utilizing stress management techniques that work best for you.

    Check out this list of stress management techniques.

  2. Be kind to yourself.  Understand that it’s perfectly normal to experience difficult emotions, even during the holidays. Studies show that our stress levels tend to spike during this time, so it’s important set realistic expectations for ourselves. Acknowledge your emotions, and understand that feelings of excitement, apprehension, grief, sadness, and anxiety are all okay to feel. Give yourself permission and find ways to healthily identify, express, and manage these feelings.

  3. Take care of yourself. Self care comes in many different forms. Self care can include anything that benefits our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. Building a self care routine allows us to handle difficult challenges that present themselves in everyday life. Self care is easy to incorporate into any schedule and is a great habit to build during the holidays.

    Check out our list of 21 self care techniques here.

  4. Find Times for mindfulness. To be mindful means to be present in the moment. During this hectic time, mindfulness may be the perfect thing to help you appreciate micro-moments because it helps us to be fully present when spending time with those closest to us. The benefits of mindfulness include reduced stress and resilience to challenging situations. Mindfulness is beneficial to us because it helps us to clear our minds of negative thoughts so we can then approach situations without bias.

    Mindfulness is very easy to incorporate into your day, and most times doesn’t involve much planning. Check out these mindfulness techniques.

    Develop a positive outlook. Long lines, shopping, baking, parties --- it seems like we’re constantly being overloaded during the holidays. It can become easier to focus on the negatives when we’re feeling so much pressure from society to appear happy and excited. So how can we shift our mindsets to better reflect the joy and positivity of the season?

    Studies show that adopting a positive outlook has great health benefits and can reduce stress. One way to add positivity to your life is through keeping a gratitude journal. Reflecting on what you’re grateful for daily is a great practice to incorporate into a self care routine. There’s no requirement on how lengthy or detailed your entries should be and your gratitude journal is completely private to you, if you choose.

  5. Give back. It's the season of giving, and the perfect time to incorporate generosity into your life. Did you know that generosity makes us feel good and even has health benefits? A great way to reclaim your joy during the holiday season is to do kind things for others. Generosity doesn’t have to be tangible, and it doesn't have to cost money. Generosity promotes social connection and encourages others to give as well.

    Take a look at these creative ways to give back this season. Try doing a quick Google search for other ideas!

It’s important to remember that reclaiming your joy while allowing yourself the space to acknowledge your feelings is possible during the holidays. If we equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to understand and manage our emotions, we are empowering ourselves with the ownership of our mental and emotional state.

If you or anyone know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts please call these hotlines for help.

Free Hotline Numbers:

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Youth Crisis Hotline: 1-800-448-4663

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