The holidays are a time of joy and happiness, but for many mothers, they can also be a time of stress and anxiety. If you're feeling overwhelmed this season, don't worry - you're not alone.
In this blog post, I will discuss some tips for getting through the holidays as a stressed mom. Follow these tips and hopefully, you'll be able to celebrate the holidays in peace!
Why the Holidays Can Lead to Stress, Anxiety, and Depression
The holidays can be a stressful time for anyone, but for moms, they can be especially challenging. There are many demands placed on mothers during the holiday season - from buying presents and preparing meals to hosting parties and entertaining visitors. All of these things can take a toll on your mental health, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and even depressed.
My Personal Experience with Postpartum Anxiety
Something I've personally struggled with after having children is anxiety. Postpartum anxiety and depression is a topic that almost feels taboo to talk about. However, it's very common for moms to experience. While I was pregnant, no one warned me about the overwhelm I would feel with newborn twins (and as a first-time mom).
Unfortunately, I didn’t realize at the time what I was feeling, was postpartum anxiety. I honestly thought, well now I have newborn babies, so I guess this feeling of complete overwhelm is normal. Sadly our health care system fails mothers when it comes to education and preparation in the postpartum phase of life- both from a mental and physical standpoint- and this truly needs to change.
Feeling Anxious? Get Help Now
I was able to talk to my physician about it and got some help with my postpartum anxiety. Unfortunately, this went on for years before I realized just how much help I needed to feel somewhat normal again and not under constant overwhelm and stress. My advice for anyone feeling anxious or depressed, is to talk with your doctor/OBGYN first. There are many resources and avenues you can take that don’t necessarily include medication to help improve anxiety.
10 Ways to Manage Your Stress
Since the holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, this can make moms feel even more guilty about their mental state- but don't fret! If you're struggling to get through the holidays, it's important to remember that you're not alone. Many mothers, new or “seasoned,” feel the same way you do.
Here are my top 10 tips for getting through the holiday season with less stress this year:
1. Keep Up with Your Healthy Habits
Just because the holidays are a busy time doesn't mean you should let your healthy habits fall by the wayside. If anything, it's even more important to stick to your healthy routine during this time of year. Eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will help improve your mood and give you the energy you need to get through the holiday season.
If you have trouble maintaining your healthy habits during the holidays, try to schedule them into your day. Set aside time each day for a healthy meal, a workout, or some relaxation time. This will help you stick to your routine and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all the holiday festivities.
Of course, it's also important to give yourself a break. Don't beat yourself up if you miss a workout or have an unhealthy meal or sweet treat. The holidays are a time for enjoying yourself, so don't stress too much about being perfect.
2. Start new habits
Admittedly, the busy holiday season might not feel like a great time to start a new habit. However, if you're struggling with anxiety or depression, it might be helpful to focus on something positive. Adding a new healthy habit to your routine can help you feel better both mentally and physically.
Some easy habits you can start that require practically no extra time include drinking more water, taking social media apps off your phone, getting outside for a few minutes each day, or meditating for a few minutes each day. These simple activities can help improve your mood and reduce stress.
3. Take a deep breath
When you're feeling overwhelmed, take a few minutes to yourself and just breathe. This might seem like an obvious solution, but it can be surprisingly effective. Focusing on your breath will help you slow down and focus on the present moment. Once you've taken a few deep breaths, you'll likely feel calmer and in control.
4. Let it go
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to let go of things that you can't control. This includes other people's opinions (especially your visiting family or friends), the weather, and traffic. Instead of getting wrapped up in these things, focus on the things you can control- like your own happiness.
This doesn't mean that you ignore the feelings you are dealing with. Rather, give them space to process whatever is going on without letting them take over your entire holiday season.
5. Learn to say no
Remember that you don't have to please everyone during the holidays. It's okay to say no to things that you don't want to do (in fact- it's encouraged!). Don't put extra pressure on yourself by trying to do everything perfectly. Just relax and enjoy the season.
Setting boundaries is important for taking care of yourself during the holidays. If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to say no to plans or events. You don't have to explain yourself- just politely decline and take some time for yourself instead.
6. Start a gratitude routine
One of the best ways to reduce stress is to focus on the things you're grateful for. This can be done in a number of ways, but one simple way to get started is to keep a gratitude journal. Each day, write down a few things that you're thankful for. At the end of the week, take some time to read through your entries.
Focusing on gratitude can help shift your mindset from negative to positive. This can make a big difference in how you feel during the holiday season (and all year long!).
7. Ask for help
If you're feeling overwhelmed, it's okay to ask for help (and no- it's not a sign of weakness!). Whether you need help with shopping, cooking, or cleaning- don't be afraid to reach out to your family and friends. Delegating tasks can help reduce your stress levels and make the holiday season more enjoyable for everyone.
8. Be realistic
One of the biggest sources of holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. If you're constantly comparing yourself to others (or to an idealized version of the holidays), you're setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, focus on what's realistic for you and your family. This might mean scaling back on your plans or keeping things simple.
Simply focus on what matters to you and your family!
9. Plan ahead
If you're dreading the holiday season, it might help to start planning ahead as much as possible (while still leaving space and expectations for surprises or hitches). This can include things like making a list of tasks that need to be done, setting a budget, or creating a schedule. Having a plan can help reduce stress and make the holidays more manageable.
10. Try unconditional love
This final tip might be the most important one of all. Learning to love yourself- unconditionally- can make a world of difference in how you feel during the holidays (and all year long). This doesn't mean that you have to be perfect- it just means accepting yourself for who you are.
This can also help you accept others the way they are and significantly reduce any relationship tensions during the holidays.
What Helps Me the Most with Holiday Stress
A few things that help me manage the stress around the holidays are making sure our weekend schedule is not jam-packed with events and continuing my self-care routine. For me, this includes exercise and time for myself to read or journal. It’s hard to say no to events during the holidays but if it will add stress to my day or weekend, then it’s something I’ve learned I need to just say no to.
Overall, I know that I need to move my body for 15-20 minutes to improve my mood and keep my level of anxiety low. Everyone is different, so you need to find out what works for you when it comes to decreasing stress and anxiety.
Getting Through the Holidays
This year, you can do more than just survive the holidays. You can thrive! With a little planning (and a lot of self-care), you can get through the holiday season feeling joyful, connected, and stress-free.