Holiday season is just around the corner. Do you feel stressed out before and during holidays? Are you too busy to notice any signs of stress?
2020 and 2021 have been quite stressful years for most people in the world. Although, the stress affects everyone differently, this pandemic has certainly affected us all in more ways than one. For many people, stress is a common occurrence in everyday life. Some people even think that certain level of stress keeps them alert and productive. But if you get used to constantly being in stress, it can have long-lasting negative physical and mental impacts on you. This article covers top 10 signs you are stressed and will also cover how to cultivate a slow lifestyle to reduce the stress in your daily life. Start practicing these tips from now to get used to them before Christmas Holiday starts.
Medical Disclaimer: This article and the stress-assessment worksheet or guide is not meant to replace professional medical advice. If you’re feeling anxiety or panic attacks that may be harmful for you or someone else, please call your medical professional or 911.
Top 10 signs of stress during holidays with a FREE printable to reduce stress
Physical Signs of Stress:
Everyone reacts to stress with different physical signs. You may not notice physical signs until stress has overtaken a majority part of life. However, following are the most common signs to help you acknowledge the stress early on.
- Sleeplessness/ insomnia
- Unexplained irregular heart-rate even after resting well
- Unexplained weight-gain
- Unexplained or sudden weight-loss
- Hair-loss or premature graying of hair
- Consistent headache or migraines even after resting well
- Lowered immune system- falling sick often
- Unexplained tiredness even after a good night sleep
- Allergies that were not present before
- Constant low-grade fever or an absence of any acute illness due to lower level of health and prolonged chronic or auto-immune disease
Some of these signs you may not notice right away, but over a period, they will get exacerbated. If left unchecked, it can lead to further stress or worsened physical effects. Our society rarely appreciates or encourages us to take frequent breaks and rest. Taking on more work and responsibilities is rewarded with monetary benefits and other social recognition. People with laid-back lifestyle get criticized more often than not.
Please do not fall for the social or family pressure to do more, be more, earn more, and spend more. Recognize these signs early on and make small changes in your busy lifestyle.
Mental Signs of Stress:
If we ignore the physical signs for a long, our body shows mental/ emotional signs. The most common mental/ emotional signs of stress are:
- Constant Irritability or unexplained anger that you can not contain or let go of. Just look at Twitter these days
- Frequent panic attacks
- Irregular and prolonged mood swings
- Unexplained crying or inability to cry or feel empathy towards others
- Inability to focus on one thing with concentration
- Taking up too masks and leaving everything half-done
- Obsessive compulsive disorder for excessive cleaning or any habit that takes over your day-to-day life
- Laziness and procrastination
- Absenteeism at work or school
- Wanting to be alone or aloof or needing constant company of others to feel better about oneself.
Why this pandemic is more stressful for us?
During this Pandemic, different viewpoints and opinions are shared by scientists, politicians, friends, and families. No one seems to stick with the real science of life and body’s natural ability to heal. Social pressure and shaming on people’s choice of health has caused more stress on all of us than ever before in the history of humanity. Yes, getting the vaccine and social distancing is considered as a safer way, for now. But at the same time, promoting a healthier lifestyle, better food choices and less panic-driven news in general is a good measure towards public health as well. Why do these measures not get promoted and encouraged by public officials and policy makers? They will do more good to the overall population than non-stop fear and fight inducing behavior.
The smallest things people say or do tend to provoke us and set us off. We are being too fast to judge others and their choices. All this has led to increased anger towards others and sometimes towards our own self. Social distancing, in spite of following health protocols, including the jabs and masks, has added more fuel to the fire. We have seen the people enforcing social distancing but breaking their own rules and get away with it. There are separate rules for different groups of people. Migrants with our without legal approval have different set of rule and citizen, who pay for all the facilities that everyone enjoys here, have separate set of rules. All this leads to more anger among the nationals of this country and others as well.
On the inside, some of you might feel that people are not fair, life is not fair. You might feel panicked, as if you’re losing all control and your life is in some kind of tailspin right now. Is this why this pandemic exists in the first place for so long? It started with 2 weeks of closing and now its more than a year of unfounded and unsupported rules? If yes, who is doing this? We don’t know who and what is behind this.
“The truth is that stress doesn’t come from your boss, your kids, your spouse, traffic jams, health challenges, or other circumstances. It comes from your thoughts about your circumstances.” ―Andrew Bernstein
How can I cope up with stress of holidays during the COVID-19 pandemic?
With so many thoughts and emotions running through your head and heart, you’ll find it a lot harder to sit down and focus on doing the things that matter the most to you and your loved ones. But just knowing that your health is your priority will help you focus on yourself more than the outer forces.
If you notice you are drinking more wine or alcohol or coffee and/ or smoking more often, it will just numb the stress for a short while. This can create an entire world of horrible issues and chronic illnesses, not to mention the disturbance in your relationships and family. A broken relationship or a family is the one of causes of heart pain and illnesses including lower immunity.
Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to these signs if you really want to resolve your stress. If you understand the sources of stress, you can deal with them directly. The first step is realization if you are leading a stress-filled life.
Identify the sources of stress during holidays for you
Some things, people, events cause more stress than others, depending on the person. Some sources of stress can external but sometimes, they can internal as well. But please keep in mind that most of the time, we humans take the simple route and chose the little things that annoy us. E.g. Traffic, colleague’s reaction to our work, waiting in the line at the cafe. It is easier to point at the external reasons that cause you stress, but in reality, you might be the source of your own stress, if you take every little thing personally and get offended too quickly.Your lifestyle can shed a light on these sources of stress.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you worry a lot before things actually happen?
- Do you sit for a long time at work in the closed quarters and avoid taking fresh air every day?
- Do you consume more than you need? Both food and information- especially the stressful news?
- Do you take more work and responsibilities in family and at work?
- Is it hard for you to say no to people?
- Do you consume more stimulants to get on every day? It includes coffee, tea, alcohol or other stimulants.
- Do you complicate simple things or simple projects?
- Do you take things personally at work and at home?
- Do need to be perfect at all times?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, it is time to look inside and change at least one area of your life. Start slow and continue the relaxed way of living in that one area for a few months before moving onto another area.
How to relive the stress without adding more self-care activities during holidays?
Do you notice the trend these days? People promote self-care via self-care activities. Would that not include doing more activities in the already tight schedule?
Here are 7 easy ways to take a pause and slow down.Download and Practice Self Care from Today
1) Carry an attitude of gratitude
Life inherently is very simple if we carry an attitude of gratitude. It is much easier to express dissatisfaction than to say thank you, especially when everyone finds a reason or 10 to blame others during pandemic. Keeping a gratitude journal is all the rage these days. No, you do not need to go out and spend money on fancy gratitude journals. Just take a regular pen- paper out and start writing what you are thankful for that day. There are no rules here. You can do this at the start of the day, in the night or on harder days,l do this every hour. There is always something around you and within you that you will notice to be thankful for if you train your mind to look at the glass half-full.
To get started, download this simple gratitude journal for FREE.
2) Practice a SLOW Lifestyle to reduce stress in daily life and during holidays
Not being able to say no and maintain personal boundaries result in over-scheduling. Some of us believe to be in a constant state of busyness- that result into over-activity of the brain and the body. No wonder the modern doctors are giving out more ADHD diagnosis for adults. Now, some cases can be genuine, but if they got the results later in life, there must be something going on in their personal lives leading up to the diagnosis.
You do not need to be under constant pressure to be doing something, whether it be taking more work, doing all the cooking and cleaning in OCD style, or saying no to rest and taking part in social gathering (not that they are happening a lot these days but you get the idea right?). Give time to yourself-for doing nothing– take a nap, look at the ceiling, go out for a walk or just sit on the ground looking at the sky or stars above you. In fact, schedule a relaxation time in your day like you schedule a meeting/ appointment with someone. Hard-block this time in the calendar and make people aware that you will not be reachable during this time. I have done it even at workplaces and literally took naps in stress-free rooms set aside for pregnant employees.
You can also set the limit on time you will stop working for the day. It can be 3PM or 6PM or 8 PM. Set the time and say no to any additional work that day. It also applies to work at home. Sometimes, we work more while doing remote work. I have done that for a decade. My normal remote work day would start at 6 am, taking off-shore calls and it would go on until late at night about 11PM when I would hand over my work to off-shore team so that they could continue working during their day time. They also had similar outrageous schedules. This can put a lot of wear on people quickly, leading to emotional instability and lots of stress. Don’t allow yourself to get so overburdened that you break down. At my old job, nobody could sustain it for long terms. 40% of the people in my job quit by year 1, other 30% changes careers and 30% quit working altogether.
Do you also get overburdened at work and at home?
3) Divide your work and get help well before and during holiday
Allocate your energy and time appropriately to your normal chores and duties in such a way that you give yourself sufficient time to relax in between the duties or after them. If the schedule does not permit, try to get help from a colleague, a friend or family member. Be free to ask for help. If you seek help, someone will know that you need a help.
Most times, we get labeled as a superwoman at work. Seriously, you do not need that award. You need someone kind to help you out and divide up the work a bit more evenly, so you’re not as stressed out.
4) Similarly, practice the habit of saying no politely to avoid added holiday stress.
Your people will understand if you are honest and upfront about your time commitments. People prefer to work with you for a long term. So avoid any short-term favors and say no to extra work on time. But start it now because if you can’t turn down someone’s request for help or an invitation to attend yet another event, then you’ll just keep adding more activities to your day and eventually collapse with exhaustion.
There is a price to pay to keep up with appearances. Literally!
Be kind to people by gently letting them know you are happy to attend their event or work with them in the future, but right now is not the best time. You have too many responsibilities right now. If they persist, though, you can be more firm and maintain your personal boundaries.
This is also important to do during holidays. So many families could not celebrate the Holidays together last year. So this year you can expect people to go a little overboard with Thanksgiving dinners to Christmas to the new year. Practice these tips right from now, so that your family or loved ones will not be surprised when you practice self-care healthily.
Also, set your expectations on social engagements or even time with family. Coming out of social distancing for almost a year, some of us can feel anxiety being in a social setting or with extended family. Ease yourself into this transition and community with family how much togetherness you can manage during the holiday.
5) Start cooking and eating more mindfully during holidays
How many times do you rush the cooking or eat your meals in a hurry? Cooking your meals with whole fresh ingredients increases their nutrition, and that in turn reduces your stress hormones. Same goes for eating slowly and mindfully. Watching television or action movies while eating is just not good for our bodies. First, doing so shifts our focus from chewing the food to the story in the movies. Most Netflix movies and television shows are not even healthy to watch with families now.
Try to get into the habit of cooking slowly with fresh ingredients. And sit around the table or on the floor (the best way to consume food for improving your digestion) right from now. You will see your stress levels going down by the time holiday season comes around.
6) Leave some space in your planner for surprises or emergencies!
Some people like to plan their days, weeks and months, without leaving any empty spaces for urgent or surprising events. This is a mistake because life is unpredictable. Yes, planning your day or week reduces the anxiety, but not planning for emergencies may give you more anxiety,should that even come to pass? No matter what type of planning system you use, leave a certain time block empty for the “unknown”. Or if leaving a space is uncomfortable for you- at least schedule a “Me- time” every day or every week.
Make sure you don’t add any specific activity during this time. Just try to go with the flow or experience this time doing nothing at all. If this concept is hard to follow for you (which will be for initial few weeks), use this time to do whatever you want, like catching up on your favorite shows, your favorite book, or just taking a nap.
You see the pattern here, right? NAP is my go to way to relax and de-stress. They don’t cost a thing and give me amazing ideas. This comes to the next point.
7) Think about changing the career or lifestyle that stresses you out
No matter how many months or years you dedicate to self-care, if the source of your stress is your chosen career or chosen lifestyle, you need to think about changing it. Maybe you didn’t plan your career or lifestyle carefully in the beginning, that included less stress. None of us really know in advance where our career or family might take us. But over a period, you gain experiences. You advance in your career, but the time you have during the day and night is still limited.
You still need 7-8 hours of daily sleep and a few hours with your loved one daily to continue leading at work. Sometimes, when the career advances, we replace our me-time or family-time with work time. It’s a much easier choice if you call yourself- motivated/ driven career-oriented person. I know many people who boast about being that “career-driven” person. Few of them have a healthy life or a happy family to enjoy for a long term. Whatever your reason was to be in your chosen career, that doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve the same goal now by changing your career or lifestyle to live a slower and more enjoyable life.
This may take you a while, but start thinking about it. When I took that nap 12 years ago and followed through on the idea of quitting the rate race, it was an uncomfortable idea. Everyone around me was following a “Always On-Always bite more than you can chew” lifestyle. Getting promoted, going overseas, leading teams and working 70 hours a week was regular and expected of people if they wanted to grow in “their career”. But I sustained and thought through. Said no to “their definition” of growth and success.
During the next 2.5 years after that life-changing nap at work, I took steps to get closer to financial independence. When everyone was happy partying every weekend and spending their Sundays getting over hangover, I was hustling, getting my first home, saving up for retirement and building a career for myself rather than “them”. Some of my family was not on-board about quitting the “great job with greater benefits” but they soon came on-board too.
Holidays are meant to relax and spend joyful time with our loved ones. It is the time to remember good days, not-so-good days in the year and find moments of happiness in those times. Why then, we have to stress due to holiday expectations we have set on ourselves. Use these tips from now and see their effects during the coming holiday season.
I would love to know your thoughts, experiences and tips on reducing the stress during holidays.