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How Do You Find Balance During the Holiday Season?

A young woman is sitting on the floor of her living room. She is holding a paper and pen, and there are papers and a calculator on the floor in front of her.

How Do You Find Balance During the Holiday Season?

A young woman is sitting on the floor of her living room. She is holding a paper and pen, and there are papers and a calculator on the floor in front of her.

The holiday season is undoubtedly a magical time filled with warmth, joy, and the spirit of giving. However, it can also bring about a unique set of stressors that may challenge our sense of balance. From family gatherings to festive obligations, the hustle and bustle of the holidays can leave us feeling overwhelmed and depleted. If you experience these negative feelings, you may feel frustrated, embarrassed, or even ashamed that you aren’t enjoying yourself. You might be plagued with thoughts of making the most of the time you have with your loved ones, aware that no time is guaranteed. You might long for the holiday seasons of your past, when things were different, and wish you could spend more time present in the moment. You might want to do more, give more, show up more, and worry that you’ll never measure up to your goals and ideals about how to make the most of the festivities.

Stress During the Holiday Season

While the holidays are synonymous with celebration, they can also be a breeding ground for stress. The pressure to create the perfect holiday experience, combined with social expectations and the rush of year-end responsibilities, can lead to heightened levels of stress and anxiety. Acknowledging these challenges and proactively working towards finding a balance during the holiday season that preserves your mental and emotional well-being is crucial.

A mother and daughter are sitting at their dinner table in their home. On the table there are cookies and a menorah. They are reading a book together.
  • Increased financial pressure occurs not only through traditional gift-giving but also through feeding guests, bringing food and/or drink to other events, travel costs for gatherings, time off from work, and more.
  • Social expectations to attend gatherings, to look a certain way, to express specific sentiments (namely joy), and to be generous (with time, money, and effort) can wear you down mentally. Regular social anxiety can be exacerbated by all the goings-on.
  • Family dynamics are complex and have the ability to really cut to the core. Your family situation may test your patience at the best of times, let alone during the holidays when stressors outside of the family are piling up amidst extra time together and expectations to set differences and grievances aside.
  • Time constraints come to a head when you are trying to schedule everything – parties, charitable events, concerts, and pageants for the young ones in your life, shopping, baking, decorating, visiting, cleaning.
  • Overcommitment is often realized far too late into the season. You end up double-booked, letting something slide, or rushing from event to event so frantically that you don’t enjoy a moment of it.

5 Ways to Find Balance During the Holiday Season

1) Set Time for Self-Care:

Three young women are in a yoga class, doing a yoga pose on a yoga mat.

As you’ve likely heard before, you cannot pour from an empty cup. We understand this in theory or when we have time to reflect, but when we are under pressure, we tend to ignore this truth and force ourselves to push through. Setting aside time for self-care is a non-negotiable year-round; if you don’t think of it that way, now is a great time to start! Self-care begins with meeting your basic needs and grows from there.

Block out time in your schedule dedicated solely to self-care activities that rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit. Having boundaries with yourself and others is the key to making sure that you have the time and space to care for yourself as needed. If you intend to get enough rest, make time for moving your body, eat meals that satisfy you, nurture your imagination, or any other such plan, then you have the right to pursue it! Sharing your life with another person or multiple people may take some schedule mapping to accomplish. Some days, you might have to let something go. As long as “some days” don’t become “most days,” then you are on track.

When communicating your boundaries with others, remember that you aren’t in control of their responses but rather in control of your own words and actions. If you are clear, kind, and firm, you have done your job in relaying the information. Yes, there will always be times when a little compromise has to happen. Hopefully, you trade off the incidents with others so that everyone is giving a little for everyone to get a lot.

If you feel tempted to cross your boundaries, remember to revisit your ranking of values. The time you have designed as most important should be honored and respected.

2) Make Value-Based Decisions:

A biracial family is baking cookies during Christmas time together. There is a Christmas tree behind them, as they use cookie cutters to bake cookies.

balance during the holiday season

Reflect on what truly matters to you and your loved ones. By aligning your choices with your values, you’ll reduce stress and create a more meaningful and fulfilling holiday experience.

During a season with so many dynamics at play, it can be difficult to determine what your highest priorities are, as much of what you are navigating will seem to align with your values. When push comes to shove, you cannot be in two places at once, you can’t control everything and everyone around you, and you can’t predict the weather. Staying aligned with your values helps you work towards what is most important so that the majority of the time, you’re doing what is best for you.

When determining your values, make sure that you are thinking of the best-case scenario for your best self. It can be tempting to let fear guide you; human beings avoid pain more readily than we pursue pleasure. But making a decision based on insecurity or feelings of low self-esteem won’t align with your greater purpose. Make sure you are in a confident mindset, focusing on your highest ideals for yourself.

Another tip is to imagine explaining to your loved ones how you came to your decision. Would your best friend be happy to hear you’re putting yourself last? Would your partner be thrilled that you’re sacrificing your happiness for them? Can you imagine admitting to your children that you’re doing something you don’t want to do? Sometimes, we lower our standards for ourselves, sacrificing for others. But if we stop and imagine someone doing the same for us, we feel that that is unacceptable. To stay realistic, remember that you deserve to treat yourself as well as you treat your treasured friends and families. And if it helps, actually talk to someone you trust and admire as a sounding board!

3) Embrace Mindful Practices:

A young biracial woman is laying on her couch in the living room. She is on her phone and there is a Christmas tree next to her.

balance during the holiday season

Mindfulness can be particularly effective in managing stress, allowing you to navigate the season with greater ease and a heightened sense of awareness. If you attend therapy for anxiety, you will know that centering yourself and grounding yourself make a world of difference when tackling issues great and small. You also know that the smallest incident can become the biggest obstacle under the right circumstances. This is why we manage all things as best we can, and mindfulness is a key factor that we offer in therapy for anxiety in Woodland Hills. You can stay mindful by focusing on your breathing, senses, thoughts, and physical experience.

Mindfulness is about noticing your experiences in as neutral a way as possible. By being open to any truth in any reality, you can remain present in what is going on rather than worry about the future or fixate on the past. Too often, and especially during the holiday season, we compare our circumstances to things that happened before or project what impact the current situation will have on the future. During the holiday season, this might look like playing a past mishap over and over in your mind, perhaps concerned that you will repeat it. It can also look like ignoring your physical and emotional cues with the idea that it is more important to make a specific memory for the future.

The more mindful you can be in your daily life and regarding decisions outside of your holiday festivities, the better prepared you will be to bring mindfulness into this season. Listen to your body – do you feel a pit of dread in your stomach? Are your neck and shoulders tense? Have you been neglecting sleep, hydration, and nutrition? Listen to your thoughts – let them arise, and note what they tell you without judging yourself for them. Let these messages guide you to care for yourself and prioritize your health and happiness.

4) Delegate and Collaborate:

Four individuals are in the kitchen cookies together. One of the women is cutting vegetables, as the other woman cooks food on the stove.

balance during the holiday season

Trying to do it all yourself over the holiday season is a surefire route to burnout, resentment, and missing all the fun. It is not solely your job to make things happen, to come up with ideas, to work out the schedule, and so on. Delegate tasks and involve loved ones in the planning process. Shared responsibilities lighten your load and foster a sense of togetherness and collaboration. That is where the joy comes in. Have you ever heard someone tell a story of an event where plans went horribly sideways, but it’s one of their best memories to reflect upon? Any situation can be good if the people involved feel connected to one another; it doesn’t require one person setting everything up and everyone falling in line. Where is the fun in that?

Most of us have different strengths and things we enjoy doing. How can you bring your strongest attributes to your plans? If you love baking and someone else loves cooking, that is an easy fix. If someone in your family loves crafting and decor, they might enjoy doing some of the decorating.

Let it also be known that if, when everyone is collaborating, it becomes clear that there is something much more relaxed that everyone wants to do, it is okay to forgo an “event” and just be together. You might feel tempted to worry about missed opportunities – what if one of you can’t make it next year, and then you never saw the lights, watched the show, or ate the meal? What if it’s canceled next year, and now you’ll never know? We can get caught up in letting fear make decisions for us, but in actual fact, it is going to be more fun to be together doing not much of anything if that’s what everyone wants. The least enjoyable activity is one that some people are having a miserable time with, and others are trying to make them have fun.

5) Prioritize Rest:

A young woman is sitting in her home on the couch reading a book. She is wearing a scarf and glasses, and is covered with a blanket.

balance during the holiday season

Prioritize a good night’s sleep, even if it means adjusting your plans or saying no to additional commitments. Something we’ve seen at our practice offering anxiety treatment in Woodland Hills is how tricky rest can be for people and how much of a difference best well-rested makes. Some folks feel best when sleeping for seven hours, and others need ten. No matter where you fall on the scale, consider your sleep hygiene and set yourself up for success.

Try not to go to bed too hungry or full; neither is comfortable. This means making certain choices leading up to bedtime. Sometimes, especially during the holiday season, you might adjust your routine a little for special occasions. But when you are home and able to continue your usual routine, do your best to do so. Most researchers recommend not using any electronics for at least an hour before preparing for bed. This might mean reading a book, writing in a journal, folding laundry, or doing dishes instead. Maybe you will meditate and/or stretch. Sleep in a dark room that isn’t too hot or cold (most experts recommend a cooler temperature) and isn’t too noisy. Do your best to make your bed cozy and comfortable using the resources you have available.

Rest doesn’t only mean slumber. Times of rest can include quiet time to yourself or with others, perhaps enjoying a leisurely meal or watching a movie. It can mean literally putting your feet up and doing something that allows you to relax your muscles and bones. Rest can even mean that you are quieting your mind in some way, perhaps while going for a walk or stretching. Most of all, the rest is about permission. It is about pressing pause when you need to and knowing that it is what is right for you.

The holiday season is just a season, true. Being aware of the brevity of the holidays can create the temptation to put our needs aside, ignore our body’s messages about being tired or stressed, and push through. However, it doesn’t matter how short of a timespan you are dealing with; you deserve to look out for yourself. On top of this, you also deserve to enjoy the holidays! That means balancing fun with rest and socialization with space. Your basic needs do not vanish just because a lot is going on; in fact, it becomes more important than usual to look out for yourself when you are busy. The holiday season can also bring about intense emotions, both positive and negative. Even positive feelings can be draining on the nervous system, as states of excitement require more energy to maintain. Be kind and patient with yourself if you need more help than usual to achieve emotional regulation.

Anxiety Therapy at Embracing You Therapy

Do you feel like you went from your “usual anxiety” to “Holiday Anxiety”? If so, you are not alone! Whether you struggle with anxiety intermittently throughout the year, the holiday season can bring more anxiety, stress, and worry.

When you seek Anxiety Therapy in Woodland Hills, CA, you will address triggers to your anxiety, understand the vicious cycle of anxiety, and practice practical CBT and mindfulness techniques to better regulate your anxiety, worry, and fear in relationships and at work.

Contact us today for your complimentary 20-minute phone consultation with our Admin Team today!

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