The holiday season is upon us. Shopping, parties, gift-giving – it seems non-stop from Halloween until the New Year. This season is meant to represent love, family, and cheer, but for many it’s a source of stress.
A big cause of holiday stress can be trying to do too much. While stress is necessary for survival and keep our lives from being too mundane (positive stress is known as “eustress”), too much stress can have negative effects on our physical and mental health. If we try to cram in too many activities, we can get burnt out rather than experience the positive effects of stress, or eustress.
Many people find themselves excessively eating, drinking, or spending too much money at the holidays. Tons of parties and occasions for gifting cause many to overindulge. It can be a challenge to resist temptation when there is an opportunity to eat desserts, drink with friends, and give gifts to those you cherish. However, when not kept in check, these holiday indulgences can lead to longer lasting stress from weight gain, embarrassing behavior from having a little too much to drink, or even debt from overspending. Many people carry debt for month following the holidays.
Stress can also come from family around the holidays. Even the closest of extended families can be together too much. It can be difficult to maintain healthy balance of time together and boundaries. On the flip-side, not having family around can also be stressful. Loneliness can set in for many around the holidays.
As if the holidays didn’t seem stressful enough, many suffer, often unknowingly, from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Less daylight and spending more time indoors can lead to SAD, which has symptoms similar to depression.