It’s not uncommon to feel burnt out or highly stressed this time of year. Sure the holidays are fun and festive, but there are a lot of mixed emotions that arise around times of celebration.
If you’re feeling stressed out or just worn down, you’re not alone. Millions feel the same way as you do. To combat the stress that comes with this time of year, turn inward and explore reasons why you might be feeling the way you are. Once you can identify what might be behind your feelings, you can actually do something about it (if you’re wanting to feel better).
Common Causes of Holiday Stress
You’ve Neglected Self-Care
That’s right, if you’ve neglected taking care of yourself over the past several months, it will catch up with you. Have you been exercising regularly? Eating healthy, whole foods and skipping the sugar, caffeine, and sweets? Connecting with others? Giving yourself downtime to relax and recharge? How about, trying that new hobby you’ve been interested in?
Well, it’s time to start building self-care into your daily routine without excuses. You don’t have to do all of these things in a day, but you certainly should pick at least one to incorporate into your day, then mix it up!
My suggestion? Moving your body should be a priority. If you can’t get to a gym, go for a walk. Can’t go for a walk? Do some stretching at home. If you can’t stretch, try qi gong.
Stress can make you feel exhausted and low, I know. So when those low moods strike, play some of your favorite music and dance. Yes, dance! Seriously. Dancing or “shaking it out” really has an amazing way of bringing a low mood back into balance. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Need inspiration for ways you can implement self-care into your life?
- Take a walk in nature.
- Take a warm shower or bath (bonus points if your bath has epsom salts in it!).
- Play or listen to music that soothes you, inspires you, or elevates you.
- Dry brush or self-massage your skin.
- Meditate. Start with 5 quiet minutes a day then work your way up over time.
- Read a book for pleasure.
- Exercise of any form as long as it’s something you find enjoyable.
- Journal or write a letter to someone.
- Reach out to a friend old or new. Simply connect.
- Find a therapist and schedule an appointment.
- Watch or listen to inspirational programming.
- Say ‘no’ without any guilt.
You’re Trying to Be Perfect.
When you hear the word perfectionist, do you think of yourself? Are you a people-pleaser? During the holidays, these tendencies can come to the forefront due to gift giving and social gatherings.
You might be agonizing or stressing over what to give someone as a gift. You hope they love it and you want to please them. My advice, let this go. Of course you want to give something thoughtful and meaningful to someone you care about, but what matters is that you thought to give them something in the first place! Perfectionism has no place in gift giving because anything that comes from the heart doesn’t need to be perfect.
Let’s say the person who received your gift didn’t like it. So what? That’s for them to feel, not you. You showed up with a gracious, generous spirit. You were ‘perfect’ because you chose kindness.
If you notice yourself worrying or stressing over finding the perfect present, ask yourself, “Who would I be without this thought of being perfect? How would I feel if I trusted that I have shown up with kindness?” Go with that feeling.
The same thing goes for social gatherings (although with the pandemic, I wouldn’t encourage gatherings at this time). If you notice yourself having people-pleasing behaviors such as having a hard time saying ‘no’, stressing over being ‘good enough’, or feeling rejected by someone, it’s time to let it go.
Ask yourself, “How do I want to feel this holiday?” If the answer is happy, lighthearted, stress-free, then check your thoughts for what they are saying. Choose to have happy thoughts and always look for what you can be grateful for. Hopefully you’ll be the example to others.
You Might Be Grieving.
Holidays can be tough. You want to celebrate and rejoice, but something inside of you might feel heavy. Almost even sad. But why? Aren’t holidays supposed to be uplifting and fun?
Well, the truth is, holidays tend to bring up old and new griefs. Holidays and the sentiments that accompany them can stir up feelings of loneliness, regret, sorrow, even change and uncertainty. You might be missing a loved one, or wishing you had a significant other to share the holidays with. Perhaps you’ve recently chosen to give up alcohol or sugar and you’re adjusting to life without those substances.
This is all grieving.
So if you’re feeling down or tearful this holiday season, allow yourself to experience those emotions. Cry if you need to. Talk to your grief. Yes, really! Talk to your grief and let it know that you see it and feel it. By doing this, you are acknowledging a part of yourself that is very real and worthy of being noticed.
Tell your grief that you’re there with it, you’re willing to work through it. If you need to call a friend, talk to a trusted person such as a therapist or clergy member, etc., reach out and share your sorrows! You don’t have to be alone.
Next, you might think of a “happy” tradition or ritual you can start to acknowledge what you feel you’ve lost or are missing. Maybe you make a ‘mocktail’ and delight in the good choice you made for yourself if you gave up alcohol. Or maybe you watch a movie that reminds you of a loved one who has passed. You could also make a list of all the qualities you hope to find in a partner in the near future and start feeling hope that this person is coming into your life. Making a vision board is a great activity to get your head in a better place (check out the link for ideas on how to make one!).
The most important thing is to honor yourself and be gentle with yourself. This too shall pass. Choose happiness. You only have today, so make it a good one!
You Aren’t Conserving Your Energy.
I know this one oh-so-well being a highly sensitive person (HSP). While I love sharing holidays with family, I am someone who needs a lot of alone time. For me, it’s down time to recharge and be away from other’s energy. This may show up as me retreating to my room to lay down or choosing to run errands solo. I might also choose to take a longer warm shower to help my body reset.
The point is, you can recharge in whatever way feels best to you. Maybe it’s exercising, meditating, going for a walk, or listening to soothing music.
Sometimes we’re not always aware of how we absorb other’s energy, but it can zap your own energy pretty quickly if you don’t take time to step away and be with yourself. While some people thrive in the company of others, many of us prefer small doses of social time mixed with lots of quiet time. This helps us mitigate feelings of overwhelm, tiredness, and stress.
If you’re noticing yourself feeling stressed, you can check in with yourself and take note on how much ‘me time’ you’re giving yourself. Is it balanced with time connecting with others? If you feel like time to yourself is severely lacking, give yourself permission to say ‘no’ to others’ requests. You never have to feel guilty or bad for taking care of yourself. In fact, by you taking care of yourself, you’re giving others permission to do the same!
Simply saying, “I am feeling really tired lately, so I am going to say ‘no’ and use that time to rest,” can help you advocate for what you really need and maybe really want. Then do it – use that time to rest, relax, and recharge!
Get Outside of Yourself
As you notice yourself feeling “off”, depressed, anxious, stressed, etc., that might be a cue to get outside of yourself. Do something for someone else.
Too much focus on ourselves can sometimes lead to a perpetual cycle of self-pity or stress. But when you offer your time, talents, and kindness to others you’re shifting your focus onto someone else. There is no doubt you will feel better by doing something caring and kind for another this holiday season.
Are you able to volunteer your time or efforts somewhere? Do it! You could offer to walk the neighbor’s dog or bake something or offer to run errands for your elderly community member. The options are endless. With the pandemic, there are still ways to give back, so don’t let that stop you!
Whatever you choose to do, do it with love. Love for yourself and love for others. Wishing you health and happiness this holiday season. Thanks for being with me and being a part of the Sensitive Soul community! Happy Holidays!
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