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Holiday stress: Why it happens and how you can manage it

The holiday season brings gifts, holiday parties, and activities with loved ones. Soon after Halloween (or Day of the Dead in this part of the world), the festive season snowballs until we ring in the new year. While this season is supposed to be full of love, joy, and merriment, many find it to be more stressful than anything. In this Pacific Prime Latin America article, we look at the reasons behind holiday stress and offer tips to help keep it at bay.

Individual health insurance blog

Why do the holidays stress us out?

We know that this time of year is meant to make us feel warm and fuzzy, not stressed out and irritable. Even so, the holidays seem to crank up the stress factor time and time again. Here are some reasons why holiday stress is seemingly inevitable.

There’s too much going on

Everything in moderation, right? Well, that rule seems to go out of the window for many during the holidays, reminding us that too much of anything is bad.

Stress certainly has its place. It’s vital for our survival and even our enthusiasm for life in the case of eustress (aka good stress). But too much stress negatively impacts our physical and mental health. Packed schedules, no matter how fun-filled they are, can quickly turn into holiday stress and mental health pays the price.

Excessive eating, drinking, and spending

With so many parties and gift-giving events, people find it easy to eat, drink, and indulge to the point of excess. Overindulging in booze, sugar, or spending might feel good in the moment but not so much when you’re dealing with consequences. Weight gain, debt, or embarrassment are just some examples of things that can stay with you once the celebrations come to an end.

Not enough alone time

Extended families often gather during the holiday season. While being close to loved ones can be lovely, too much togetherness is a real thing. Whether it’s sharing the same roof or one activity after another, it can be difficult to strike a healthy balance between time together and alone. Some people also find themselves dreading family time as they’re treated like someone they once were instead of who they’ve become.

Feeling lonely or depressed

The holidays can be a hard time for those who have lost loved ones and experience loneliness. Everywhere you look people are spending time with family, leaving those who spend more time with friends feeling rather alone. On top of that, the changing of seasons can cause a form of depression known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Even though the condition is subtle, it can put a blanket over the entire season. One that leaves people feeling stressed and unhappy when they expect to feel the opposite.

How to reduce holiday stress

If there’s one good thing about holiday stress, it’s that we can expect it and have a general idea of how long it’ll last – which can’t be said about many other stressful events in life. Armed with this knowledge, we can come up with plans for managing holiday stress. Give the following tips a go to minimize stress before the holiday season gets the best of you.

Decide what’s most important

Instead of becoming overwhelmed by having too much on your plate, think about which traditions you truly care for and focus on those. Stop seeing the holiday season as an endless to-do list by narrowing it down. Do you like sending cards and baking, but don’t enjoy caroling and shopping? Knowing what you do and don’t like lets you know what to focus on, and what will leave you feeling your best.

Scale down

If you’re someone who can’t imagine not ticking everything off your holiday season checklist, then your second best option is to scale down how you go about it. For example, send cards to those you’re close with instead of everyone in your address book. Or go with a generic greeting instead of something personalized. The goal is to simplify in any way you can. And yes, that means you can buy a pie from the bakery instead of making it from scratch.

Taking shortcuts leaves more time for you to actually enjoy the holidays and being with loved ones. Isn’t that the whole point?

Eat smart

The holidays are a unique time of wanting to look and feel our best, and being tempted by food, desserts, and drinks everywhere we look. It’s also when we step away from our regular routine. All of this and more can lead to overeating, emotional eating, and unhealthy eating in general. Be a smart eater this year by recognizing your triggers in advance, keeping healthy food on hand, watching your intake, and practicing mindful eating.

Adjust your expectations for connection

You need to know your limits when it comes to family and friends. Think about how long you can usually spend together before it becomes stressful. Then reduce the number of parties you go to or how long you stay accordingly. This can help alleviate the stress going into the situation, and allow you to enjoy your time spent together instead.

Those who tend to feel lonely during the holiday season can consider inviting friends over. If that’s not possible, then volunteering to help those in need is a great alternative.

Create a schedule

Instead of having plans floating around in your head and making you overwhelmed, manage your time effectively by creating a schedule. Remember to factor in travel time, downtime, exercise time, etc., to avoid committing to too many activities outside of your own. Begin with your top priorities so you know what you’re working with.

Take deep breaths

It might sound simple but taking deep breaths is something that many of us forget to do – despite being an incredibly effective stress management tool. If things get overwhelming (or you just need a reset!), take a few minutes to yourself to do some deep breathing exercises or meditation. Having a few breathing techniques like box breathing or pranayama to turn to when can reduce stress in no time. Breathe in peace, breathe out stress, and enjoy the holiday season!

Put your health first with Pacific Prime Latin America

We tend to focus on others during the holidays, and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as you remember to look after yourself too. What better gift to give yourself than the gift of health? By securing health insurance, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing your health is in good hands.

As a leading insurance broker with over two decades of experience, Pacific Prime Latin America can help you find the best plan for your needs and budget – whether you’re looking for individual health insurance in Mexico or globally.

Contact us for impartial advice and a free quote today.

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Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime Latin America
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs