Thinking Well


The holidays can be merry but it can also bring on stress and anxiety to some people.

01 Dec 2021
As the year comes to an end and a new calendar begins, ‘tis the season for celebration but it’s not all parties and good times. Here are some ways to cope.

Plan, Plan, Plan

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on and it feels like nothing is within your control. The key is to have a structure in place ahead of time, where you plot things in and allocate time for each. That gives you an overview of what’s to come and you can then plan out your schedule. Besides family commitments and social activities, remember to also carve out time for yourself – some “me” time away from everyone, a workout session, a day at the spa, a walk in nature …

Top tip
You can’t do everything and be everywhere all at once, so choose sensibly. Define your priorities and put those in your plan first. Everything else is optional.

Set Routines And Rules

Things like nutrition and fitness are prone to get sidelined as rich foods will be in abundance and someone’s always ready to offer you a glass. You don’t want to hold yourself back to the point that you miss out on the merriment, but you also don’t want the guilt and other repercussions afterwards. This is what you can do: For one to two weeks prior, go on a clean eating spree. Be diligent with your workouts. In short, get your health in the best shape possible so your body can cope better with the indulgences. That doesn’t mean you should then go all out and let everything go down the drain once the festivities begin though. Set your limitations and allowances e.g. fill at least half your plate with vegetables and fruits at every meal, no more than x number of drinks per night, one dessert per day.

Top tip
Start each day with a short, simple workout. You’ll feel better the rest of the day and reap the many benefits of morning workouts.

Define Your Boundaries

No, just no, and that’s perfectly ok. Whether it’s due to peer pressure, not wanting to be a killjoy or the need to please, we often find it hard to turn people and requests down. You want to make everyone happy – but what about you? Are you happier doing it or not doing it? Know your limits, respect yourself and your needs. If someone tells you they are not comfortable with something, would you still push them towards it or step back and give them space? Do the same for yourself.

Top tip
It could take a while to get the hang of things so you might find yourself getting off track in the beginning, but practice makes perfect. Keep at it and it will get easier.

Reach Out

Whether you feel overwhelmed by too many things going on or are lonely from not being able to be with your loved ones, you don’t have to face it all by yourself. You are never alone because there are others going through the same holiday stress. Connect with family and friends any which way you can. If it’s not possible to meet in person, get on a video call, do the old-fashioned way with a phone call, or exchange text messages. There are many, many ways to reach out, and people appreciate it when you take the initiative to do so.

Top tip
Connections don’t always have to happen in real time. “Slow” methods like snail mail has become rare but that’s all the more reason to bring it back. A handwritten note, a card in an envelope … there is as much joy in giving as in receiving.

In And Out

There is an easy technique to cope with anxiety and it’s something that you already know how to do: breathing. Question is, are you doing it the right way so as to calm your nerves or the opposite? Quick, shallow chest breathing can cause the heart to beat faster, muscle tension and dizziness. In short, it can trigger a stress response. On the other hand, deep and slow breathing tells the nervous system that everything is ok. That helps regulate things like digestion and blood flow. When it feels like things are falling apart, find a quiet corner and try some of these breathing exercises.

Top tip
You don’t have to wait for those anxious feelings to arise before launching into deep breathing mode. Just do several rounds of the exercises whenever you remember and it will become second nature.

Banish the holiday blues with these practical tips. Most importantly, put your mental health needs ahead of everything else.


Mental Health During The Holidays: Five Tips To Ease The Struggle
10 Ways To Build And Preserve Better Boundaries
How To Check In With Yourself And Why It’s Important
How To Beat Holiday Stress, According To Experts
Everyone Is Stressed And Anxious This Holiday Season. 7 Ways To Cope
8 Deep Breathing Exercises to Reduce Anxiety