Mental Health Tips of the Month
Managing Your Holiday StressDecember 2013
The semester is coming to an end and it is time to start preparing for the holiday season. The holidays can be a time of joy and celebration but for many people, it can also be a time of anxiety and stress. There are many causes of holiday stress including financial strain, overindulgence on food and alcohol, family conflict, feelings of loneliness and sadness, and unrealistic expectations.
Here are five tips for managing your holiday stress:
- Create a holiday budget and stick to it. Consider planning low cost holiday activities such as window-shopping or looking at holiday decorations. Instead of buying gifts for everyone, have a gift exchange with your friends and family. A holiday gift exchange not only saves time and money, it can also be very amusing and create lasting memories.
- Do not overindulge on food and alcohol. Holidays are the time when we tend to overeat and drink too many alcoholic beverages. Excessive eating and drinking can cause unnecessary weight gain and hangovers. Remember to drink in moderation or not at all. Try to eat healthy foods and continue to exercise during the holiday season. Avoid starving yourself before a holiday party or family gathering because this approach can lead to eating too much of the wrong foods.
- Learn how to control your behavior when a family conflict arises. The holidays are a time when families tend to gather and family conflicts tend to brew. The best way to manage family conflict is to remember that you are responsible for how you behave. You cannot control the behavior of others but if you behave your best when a conflict arises, you can walk away from any difficulty feeling good about yourself.
- The holiday blues. Many people feel sad and lonely during the holiday season. To beat the holiday blues spend time with people who care about you, volunteer to help others, stay active, practice mindfulness meditation, or try yoga. If the feelings of sadness and loneliness persist, seek professional help.
- Have realistic expectations. Having unrealistic expectations of family and friends and expecting that everything will be perfect during the holidays can leave you feeling disappointed and sad. Life is not perfect and the holidays are not going to be perfect either. Remember, the holidays are about appreciating what you have and appreciating those around you.
If you do not find these ideas helpful or you would like to learn more about how to manage holiday stress, please call CAPS to schedule an initial consultation appointment to discuss your concerns with a therapist on staff. CAPS however will be closed for University holidays starting on December 21, 2013 and will re-open on January 2, 2014.
If you are experiencing a crisis situation and need to speak with someone immediately, please contact CAPS during business hours, and we will be happy to assist you. After business hour or when CAPS is closed for the winter break, you may contact: (1) MHMRA at (713) 970-7000, (2) Crisis Intervention of Houston at (713) HOTLINE (468-5463), or (3) the University of Houston Department of Public Safety at (713) 743-3333 and ask to speak to the clinician on-call.
Counseling & Psychological Services wishes you and all of the Students, Faculty & Staff at the University of Houston a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season!