How to manage your stress around the holidays

Drive-thru:

  • Around the holidays, 62% of Americans report elevated stress levels, with financial demands, family dynamics and maintaining health as top stressors.
  • Learning to recognize the signs of stress and identifying ways to reduce stress is good for your physical and mental health and well-being.
  • Setting reasonable goals, not overscheduling, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and recharging after the holidays can help you survive the holidays.

As the Christmas carol goes, the holidays are the “most wonderful time of the year.” Unfortunately that isn’t always true—in fact, they are often one of the most stressful times.

Construction is a stressful industry without the added pressure and anxiety that the holiday season can bring. There’s the extra expense of buying gifts, family gatherings, and workplace parties. Managing stress this time of year is essential for physical health, mental well-being, and overall productivity.

Sixty-two percent of Americans say they experience “very or somewhat” elevated stress levels during the holidays, with the top stressors being financial demands, family dynamics, and maintaining health during the season, according to a Healthline survey.

To survive the holiday season, here are some tips to minimize the stress:

Recognize that you’re stressed out

Stress around the holidays is normal, but that doesn’t mean you always know when stress is getting the better of you—and the only real way to reduce it is to recognize the signs. While everyone experiences stress differently, some common signs of it include anxiety, irritability, trouble sleeping, increased smoking or alcohol use, and disorganization, according to the American Institute of Stress.

Coping with stress is also an individualized process, but some ways the American Psychological Association suggests to manage stress include taking a break from the cause of the stress, taking deep breaths, exercising, talking to someone close to you, and taking time to do something you enjoy.

Set reasonable goals (and stick to them)

Around the holidays, setting goals or boundaries for holiday shopping, work, and other tasks—and sticking to them—is essential for dealing with stress. Create to-do lists and prioritize tasks so that you will get everything accomplished in an organized way. On the financial end, stick to a budget for presents, party planning, or other areas where you need to spend money.

Don’t let the expectations or demands of family, friends, or co-workers cause you to overstep any boundaries that you set or keep you from achieving your goals. This may be easier said than done, but try to maintain a sense of humor.

Avoid overscheduling yourself

The holidays can be a busy time for construction contractors and subcontractors. While on the job, focus on the job at hand, meeting deadlines and performing quality work, and try to not let any personal stress get in the way.

Keep a detailed and organized calendar during the holiday season to avoid planning too many activities or having to make too many appearances. Down time during the holidays is just as important as at other times of the year. Take some time to enjoy your loved ones and the season.

Don’t neglect your health

With busy schedules and the abundance of treats, it can be easy to forego your usual exercise routine and healthy-eating plan around the holidays. It’s okay to indulge a bit, but by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you’ll generally feel better and be less prone to stress.

Exercise will boost your body’s endorphins, which will make you feel good. It can also help you get your mind off all the stressful things in your life, improve your mood, and help you sleep. Eating more natural foods and lots of fruits and vegetables, along with eating less sugar, fried, or processed foods, will make you feel balanced and energized. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep—even over the busy holiday season—will make you less irritable and keep your energy levels up.

Recharge after the holidays are over

Once the new year rolls around, try to take a day or two off, or plan a fun weekend outing to recharge from the bustling holiday season. Right after the holidays is a good time to set goals and make plans for the new year. As you set your New Year’s resolutions, make sure to include stress management.

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