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Tips to reduce holiday stress

GEHA | December 14, 2020

Well-being Mental health
The holiday season can be joyful – but also stressful. Here are some ways to reduce holiday stress.

The holiday season can be a wonderful time to reconnect with family and celebrate with friends, but it can also be incredibly stressful – even without COVID-19 looming over everything.

Here are some ways to reduce holiday stress this year.

Make time for yourself. When you feel stressed, walk away. When the situation starts to feel overwhelming, give yourself some alone time. Spending just 15 minutes alone listening to music, reading a book or taking a walk can help clear your mind. Save your energy for the moments that are most important to you.

Be realistic. This year’s holidays may not feel like last year, and that is OK. Traditions can change. If the pandemic keeps you and your loved ones from celebrating together, gather virtually, and share photos and videos through group emails and chats.

Create a budget and stand by it. Financial advisers suggest you spend no more than 1.5% of your annual income on holiday expenses. Hold a gift exchange instead of buying for everyone, or give homemade gifts.

Plan ahead. Avoid a last-minute scramble by setting aside times for online shopping. Make a list of everything you want to bake and what you will need to make them. Leave time for yourself when scheduling – don’t plan every minute.

Give yourself permission to say no. Don’t send out holiday cards unless you feel like it. Make five different types of cookies to distribute to the neighbors instead of six. Or make one type of cookie. Or none. It’s up to you.

Stick with the healthy habits you’ve established over the year. Breaking away from your habits can add to stress and guilt. See these tips for healthy eating during the holidays.

Acknowledge your feelings. The holiday season can be a painful reminder of lost loved ones. It is normal to feel sadness and grief and OK to cry or express these feelings. Don’t force yourself to be happy. Embrace these feelings. Try to find someone you can reminisce with and share stories and memories.

Seek professional help. You may feel stressed, anxious or depressed despite your best efforts. If these feelings persist, talk to your primary care physician or mental health professional.

GEHA is here to help

If you are member of any GEHA medical plan, you can also turn to MDLIVE for behavioral health services such as online counseling sessions with licensed psychiatrists and therapists.

Therapists are available around the clock every day of the year – even holidays. Learn more about MDLIVE, including the conditions it covers.

Activate your MDLIVE account or call 888.912.1183.

“Say ‘no’ to holiday stress.”, Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 17 December, 2014.
“Holiday season stress free.”, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, November-December, 2013.
“Stress, depression and the holidays: Tips for coping.”, Mayo Clinic, 16 September, 2017.
“Managing holiday stress – personal and financial.”, Department of Homeland Security, 19 December, 2019.