The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year, but they can also be the most stressful. The holiday season sets up a collision course of finances, personal relationships, and time strains that causes overwhelming anxiety or even depression for many. If the holidays leave you feeling out of control, you’re definitely not alone and there are ways to prevent or fight the holiday blues.

  • Define your expectations – Plan ahead and make realistic expectations for the holiday season. Decide what you and your family’s priorities are to focus on what brings you true happiness versus stress. How many gatherings can be scheduled before it becomes too much and you just need to say no? Is the homemade meal from scratch a priority or can menu items be supplemented with store bought products to save time? Will the holiday still be filled with joy without a perfectly decorated home? Don’t take on too much that you run out of time to relax and enjoy.
  • Manage your finances – Gift buying, entertaining and travel stack up to a mountain of financial anxiety around the holidays. Create a budget and analyze how you can reduce expenses to manage your money more efficiently. Commit to your plan and track spending regularly to stay on target. Avoid temptation by limiting shopping time, heading out with a plan, and only buying what you came for. Remember the true meaning of the holidays and scale back when expenses outstrip your budget. Your loved ones want your companionship, not lavish gifts.
  • Keep up routines – Detouring from regular routines can lead to feelings of life being out of control or that nothing is getting done. Sticking to regular eating, exercising, and sleep routines combats weight gain and depression while boosting energy levels and those feel good post-workout hormones. Experts recommend talking a brisk, 30-minute walk daily and bonus points for walking outside where a little bit of sun goes a long way in combatting S.A.D. The rhythm and repetition of walking has a calming effect on our brains and decreases anxiety and improves sleep.