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Simple Ways to have a Positive Mindset for the Holidays

Christmas and the New Year are holidays we associate with family gatherings, parties, gift-giving, and food. It is the season for celebration, bonding, and sharing and the festive spirit fills the air with love and happiness. For some people however, the Christmas holidays can be the most stressful time of the year. Rather than feel excited, they dread the holidays and feel exhausted by the hustle and bustle of the season.

Ironically, people may feel stressed by the holidays but do not recognize it. It is thus important to know what the causes and symptoms of stress are.

Causes of holiday stress

Stress during the Christmas holidays is no different from the stress we feel at other times of the year. Stress is basically caused by pressure which we cannot handle. The pressure may come from physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual factors. Here are some common causes of holiday stress:

Financial hardship: Holiday expenses are a strain on the budget and force many people to dig deep into their pockets. The joy of receiving one’s 13th-month pay can quickly be replaced by the disbelief of how quickly it was spent. Besides the Christmas practice of giving gifts to loved ones, attending parties and other gatherings can make people spend more money than they can afford. Sadly, this places them in a situation of debt at the start of the new year.

Loneliness: During the holidays, we are expected to be with family and close friends. When loved ones are absent, Christmas and New Year can be an extremely lonely time of the year. Some are sad because they don’t have a romantic partner. Others grieve because a loved one has passed away and is no longer present to celebrate the season. In the Philippines, many feel sad because a family member works abroad and is not home for the holidays. For whatever reason, the sense of loneliness can intensify into a more serious depression.

Physical exhaustion: Traffic jams, long waiting lines, last-minute shopping, obligatory social events, staying up late at night, and over-eating all contribute to physical stress and fatigue. And even if the social functions are enjoyable, the holidays force us to cram too many activities in a short period of time, leaving our reserves of energy depleted.

Symptoms of holiday stress
Stress affects the totality of one’s person. It affects the body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Physically, stress makes people feel tired. It weakens their immune system, thus making them susceptible to all sorts of illnesses. Headaches, high blood pressure, acne, asthma, and hyperacidity are just some examples of stress-related physical problems.

Emotionally, people become irritable as they become stressed. Some develop depression symptoms manifested by a sad mood, loss of motivation, sleep pattern changes, appetite changes, a worrisome attitude, crying spells, and even thoughts of suicide. Others develop anxiety to the extent that they experience palpitations, shortness of breath, tremors, and cold sweat- the so—called panic attacks.

Mentally, the stressed person starts to become forgetful and develops lapses in concentration. Stress also affects the sharpness of one’s decision-making abilities.

And lastly, stress may bring about a spiritual angst. The stressed person may question the significance of the holidays and at worse, start experiencing a lack of purpose and meaning in life.

Coping with a positive mindset
People can easily fall into the trap of dreading the holidays and getting frazzled by the stress it brings. The good news is that people can learn to enjoy the holidays again or at least make it less stressful.

The antidote for counteracting the negative vibes the holidays is a positive mindset. Hans Selye, a stress expert, explains that “Adopting the right attitude can convert a negative stress into a positive one.”

A positive mindset for the holidays can be developed through the following ways:

Identify possible sources of holiday stress. By anticipating the factors that can stress us out, we can brainstorm for strategies to minimize them. This should be done months before the actual holidays. In fact, once Christmas songs start playing in the malls, people should already be preparing for the holidays.

Keep expenses and activities to a minimum. Learn to say NO to anything that will make you exceed your budget. Learn to say NO to activities which are not meaningful or enjoyable to you and your family. Learn to say NO to people who add to your stress during the holidays.

Take care of yourself during the holidays. Decide to own 50 percent of the Christmas season. Get lots of sleep. Reward yourself with a healthy diet. Make sure to do some daily calisthenics. Pamper yourself with relaxing massages. Enjoy the company of meaningful people. And importantly, keep your spirits up by focusing on the spiritual significance of the season.

Choose to be happy. Christmas is an opportunity to look back and be grateful for everything that has transpired. Be thankful for the lessons learned from bad experiences, and be encouraged by the good ones. The New Year should serve as a reminder for us to look forward to something better. A new year is another opportunity for us to attain our dreams, improve our lives, and become better people.

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