Manage your holiday stress

It’s the most stressful time of the year
With the Christmas list growing
And knowing that snowing
Means driveways to clear
It’s the most stressful time of the year

It’s the bus-busiest season of all
There are cookies to frost
My kid’s stocking got lost
And no one’s decked the hall
It’s the bus-busiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Hot chocolate for toasting
And so many trips to the store
There’ll be elves on the shelf
And no time for yourself
As you say yes to just one guest more

It’s the most stressful time of the year
With the presents to wrap
And no time for a nap
Because loved ones are here
It’s the most stressful time of the year

If this sounds like a more accurate version of the familiar Christmas song, you’re not alone. December is an overwhelming month for many people, and if you’re grieving or have a mental illness, this can be a particularly challenging time of year. 

It’s important to take care of yourself during the holiday season. The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers tips that can help you make December a little less stressful and a little more wonderful.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends taking time to take care of yourself to help manage seasonal depression. ( Pixabay.com photos )

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) recommends taking time to take care of yourself to help manage seasonal depression. (Pixabay.com photos)

Seasonal depression

Each day is a little shorter than the one before. It’s cold and harder to be outside. This can make exercise more challenging and hydration less inviting — because who wants to drink cold water on a chilly day when there’s coffee in the world? But NAMI reminds people to be active and to drink plenty of water and herbal tea.

The nonprofit organization also recommends pampering yourself. Soak in a hot bath. Enjoy a warm beverage and a good book. Get a massage. Enjoy a sugar cookie, but don’t overindulge in holiday goodies. That might make you feel worse.

The holidays season can be especially difficult for grieving people. Remember it’s OK to feel whatever emotion you’re experiencing.

The holidays season can be especially difficult for grieving people. Remember it’s OK to feel whatever emotion you’re experiencing.

Grief

Special times of year can be particularly difficult for people who have lost loved ones. NAMI reminds people that it’s OK to feel sorrow, anger, or even happiness. Allow yourself to feel however you feel. Make sure to take care of yourself. And if you need to let a family tradition go by the wayside this year, give yourself permission to do so.

What’s more important: achieving holiday perfection or your own mental health? Give yourself some grace and focus on making memories.

What’s more important: achieving holiday perfection or your own mental health? Give yourself some grace and focus on making memories.

High expectations

So many movies, television specials, and songs depict the ideal holiday. Ernest saves Christmas, Clarence gets his wings, and Rudolph earns respect at the North Pole. It’s natural to expect our own holidays will be filled with magic, and to despair when we realize we’re more Clark Griswold than Martha Stewart. Make sure you don’t try to overdo it this month. Make — and keep! — a budget. Remember that it really is the thought that counts. And when you’re planning nice things for your family and friends, remember to be kind to yourself, too.

 You can read more tips from NAMI here. And if you find yourself needing additional help this season, there are many resources available: