They say it’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many of us, it also can be the most stressful. Between forced family time, a stream of social functions, and seemingly endless money-spending, the brief period between Thanksgiving and the new year can pack in a disproportionate amount of anxiety.
To help combat any unease, we’ve identified 7 end-of-year stress points, and provided helpful ways to deal with them so your holiday season can be fun, festive, and totally zen. Read on!
1. Stress point: Tipping.
While tipping people that make out lives easier all year (doormen, hair stylists, babysitters, housekeepers) is a pleasure, when all’s said and done, it can take a serious toll on our wallets. The best way to tackle holiday tips is to form a plan of action. Write down exactly how much you’re planning to give each person and take all the money out at once, as opposed to running to the ATM every day this month. From there, take an hour to separate the cash and make all your envelopes—and be sure to distribute before Christmas. Need a good tipping guide for everyone in your life? Here’s one we love.
2. Stress point: Holiday weight gain.
The period between Thanksgiving and New Years Eve is undoubtedly festive, which is often code for “unhealthy,” as it brings with it an endless flow of cocktails, sweets, and decadent meals—and many of us find it hard to tighten the reins. The first rule: Don’t be too stringent, it is holiday time after all. If you want that second brownie, just have it, and eat healthy tomorrow.
Other ways to have fun but keep your waist in check: Don’t drink too much empty-calorie booze, make the most of your gym time by mixing weights and cardio, eat before you go out, and drink plenty of water. For a more in-depth look on how to avoid holiday weight gain, head here.
3. Stress point: Social anxiety.
Holiday time brings with it a perpetual stream of parties and events, which can be hard on folks who aren’t super-comfortable in social settings. While it might be tempting to hole up at home with a season of “Breaking Bad,” it’s important to push yourself to get out there and enjoy the season. However, don’t feel like you have to accept every invitation that comes your way if you don’t want to. Your office holiday party? You should go. Your old camp friend’s boyfriend’s holiday house party? Feel free to skip if you’re uncomfortable.
And since the root of social anxiety in a fear of being judged or evaluated by others, be sure present yourself in ways that you feel comfortable with. And if you’re really not feeling the party circuit at all, be sure to politely decline invitations and offer to meet friends or family members one-on-one for holiday catch-ups without any added pressure.
4. Stress point: Your family.
It’s a grim reality that not every person is destined to have a flawless, sunny relationship with their mother, father, or sibling. Sometimes the difficulties are minute—nitpicking, differing opinions on small things—but sometimes they’re much, much larger and can be detrimental to your well-being. The trick here is being honest with yourself and accepting that the family member has limitations, a move that can be quite freeing. If you really only see them during holiday time, make it a point to do your part and avoid topics you know might cause a fight, or doing things you know could make the holiday uncomfortable. For something more in-depth, here’s a full guide about how to deal with 4 types of difficult people in your life.
5. Stress point: Answering work emails during your off time.
One of the best aspects of holiday time? A lighter workload, lighter expectations, and lots of time off. However, this can actually create more stress if your inbox is still flooded with work emails. The best solution? Be clear about when you’re planning to work, and when you’re not. For example, if you know you’re going to be with family on Christmas Day, and the day after, let your managers know that you won’t be responding to emails (as opposed to telling them you’ll be periodically checking.)
Also, be sure to create a through out-of-office email that details exactly how long you’ll be out, whether you’ll have access to email, and when you’ll be back online.
6. Stress point: Being low on cash for gifts.
Maybe this year your rent doubled, maybe you owed a huge amount in taxes, or maybe you simply went shopping one too many times. Whatever the case may be, it happens to everyone at some point, and shouldn’t be a source of contention. If you’re low on cash, be honest: Your family and friends will certainly understand. Plus, sometimes gifts that don’t cost a ton are actually more fun to give, such as fresh-baked holiday cookies on a cute platter. Same goes for tipping: If you’re strapped, don’t be afraid to make something or pick up an inexpensive but tasteful gift.
7. Stress point: Seasonal depression.
The holidays aren’t aways the happiest season, as many of us face particular hardships during this time of year, such as losing a job, losing a loved one, or simply struggle with seasonal affective disorder (a very real condition that affects more than 10 million Americans—75 percent of which are women.) Whatever the case, the first rule of thumb is to have a support system to lean on, such as friends, family members, a rock-solid boyfriend. Talk about your feelings, and ask for help if you need it. Also, don’t drown yourself in booze or food—make time to exercise, and eat as well as you can.
If you lost your job, it’s key to understand that it’s rare companies hire during the holidays, but come January 2, it’s full-speed ahead. Be sure to spend the time off getting your resume together, emailing your contacts, and flagging jobs that look appealing on various networking/job sites. For an in-depth guide on how to be happy during the winter months, head here now.