Ways to Help Women Reduce and Minimize Holiday Stress
With the holiday season and all the festivities, feelings of comfort and joy may not be the first thing that comes to mind for many women.
Studies have found women are more vulnerable to feeling heightened stress levels through the holidays.
Some of the factors increasing holiday stressors for women include lack of time, not enough money, pressure to give or get gifts, and inability to manage the increased load of entertaining, social obligations, cooking/baking, decorating and holiday traveling on top of everyday work and family responsibilities.
These stressors combined with the unrealistic expectations of creating the ideal holiday experience for their families and loved ones, can make women particularly susceptible to mental and physical health problems that can adversely affect them well beyond the holiday season
Women experiencing high levels of stress are at greater risk of:
- migraine and tension headaches
- body aches and fatigue
- depression, anxiety, or emotional disorders
- high blood pressure
- eating disorders, bowel problems, acid reflux
- skin disorders
- menstrual cycle issues
- decreased sex drive
- arthritis/immune disorders
Additionally, high stress levels may cause emotional obstacles and behavioral issues, such as a lack of focus, irritability, anger/hostility, frequent mood swings, excessive smoking, overeating, and excessive alcohol consumption.
Experts advise women to be mindful of what triggers their stress and find healthy ways to manage it. Oftentimes, the way we deal with stress actually exacerbates it, turning stress into a constant component of our lives rather than minimizing or eliminating it altogether.
Here are some tips to help you reduce your stress levels this holiday season and guide you toward optimizing your mental and physical health.
Monitor holiday spending by creating a gift-giving list and budget
For holiday gatherings with extended family or friends, suggest everyone pick a name from a hat and give a gift to one person only. You can also suggest buying one gift per cousin or child, reducing holiday spending. Watch holiday sales, use coupons, and take advantage of special offers.
Simple, handcrafted gifts from your kitchen or hobby table (as well as your heart) are great gestures for those who are most meaningful to you.
Prioritize Your Time by planning ahead and creating a realistic timeline
The one preparing the traditional holiday meal can ask others to bring a side dish to lessen the burden. Or you may want to suggest going out to a restaurant so everyone can enjoy the holiday without the stress of cooking or cleaning up.
Have a cookie swap rather than doing all the baking yourself.
Shop online in the peace and quiet of your living room. Listen to your favourite holiday music and light some candles. This way you avoid crowded stores, holiday sensory overload, and heavy traffic.
Learn to say “No,” without guilt
Be honest and upfront with others regarding the holidays. If long-distance, well-intentioned in-laws expect you to travel to their house for Christmas brunch, politely state your case for staying home.
If you have several holiday invitations, select a few you and your family will enjoy. Politely decline the rest. This will help you enjoy the events you do attend and minimize the stress of a frenetic social schedule.
Make “Me Time” and Your Health a Priority
Initiate an open dialogue with your partner about the holidays and discuss each other’s expectations and desires. Be honest if you need help, and don’t be afraid to ask for it.
- Consider self-preservation a necessity on your daily to-do list
- Try to include 30 minutes of fitness activity at least a few times a week to ease stress and control your body’s cortisol production.
- Eat healthy foods and drink plenty of water daily.
- Get eight hours of sleep nightly to boost your body’s immune system, as well as daytime energy levels.
Make time daily to relax and unwind
Do something you truly love doing. For example, relish your time in a soothing bubble bath, curl up with a book, engage in a favorite hobby, treat yourself to a manicure and pedicure, or binge watch your favorite show.
Keep holiday goals realistic, keeping in mind what you and your family can comfortably achieve and enjoy.