The holidays represent joy, celebration, and merriment that are glorified on a constant loop of cocoa and fake snow-infused Hallmark movies. Not to sound like a Grinch, but the season is a minefield of emotion for many of us.
Why are the holidays so hard?
Maria Baratta, Ph.D., explains in a Psychology Today interview. “For one thing, our expectations and the reality of our experiences are misaligned,” she says. “Many are under the impression that others truly do have picture-perfect family situations—harmony and fun times and that they are the sole exception if that is not the case for them.”
And some years, the holidays are simply hijacked by life: loved ones pass away, financial woes, divorce, someone’s ill or family dynamics change. If this sounds like you, keep reading. We’ve got some tips to help you ride out an emotionally turbulent month or so.
Four Helpful Tips
Keep your regular routine
We know this is easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort. You see, a change in routine can lead to additional stress. If possible, try to exercise at your usual time, attend meetings you usually attend, and stick to a normal-ish diet. Holiday stress can impact gut health, so punctuate those rich and sweet holiday foods with bone broth, chia seeds, ginger, and fatty fish. Check out these gut-loving foods here. And keep up with your stress management practices, including yoga, meditation, or sharing a laugh with an equally-stressed stranger in the line at Costco.
Permit yourself to opt out
If you’re grieving a loss, the holidays are extra challenging because they trigger memories. In a Real Simple article, Dr. Nisha Zenoff recommends permitting yourself to spend time away from the traditional merry and bright atmosphere. Your way of coping with grief might mean seeking the solitude of nature, staying alone in your own home, or spending time with others who are going through similar struggles. Regardless of how you decide to acknowledge the holiday, remember to be compassionate with yourself and know that it might not go as planned. "If you want to cancel invitations at the last minute, give yourself permission," Dr. Zenoff says.
Don’t be alone if you don’t want to be
Psychology Today offers these suggestions. If you anticipate spending the holidays alone, try to volunteer somewhere, like in a soup kitchen, with children in group homes, or with older people in various facilities. People will appreciate you so much that you may feel better about yourself, but more importantly, you’ll have company.
Feel your feelings
Psych Central reminds us that not every moment will be merry and bright, and that’s okay. Making space for your emotions – even the less pleasant ones – can be part of the healing process the holidays offer. Even when you set your heart and mind to have the best possible experience during the holidays, you may still find it challenging. If you continue to have a difficult time coping throughout the holiday season, it may be time to consider speaking to a mental health professional.
Whatever the season, Zenwise offers a massive library of health and well-being blogs, including the Holiday Stress Survival Guide: Quick Coping Tips.
And remember to manage stress and support your gut health with effective products from Zenwise®. Not sure what product’s best for your needs? The Zenwise® customer service team can guide you in the right direction. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org or M-F from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST at (800) 940-1972.