Health Q&A

Festive Stress & Anxiety: Tips To Beat The Blues

November 29, 2018

Many people suffer from stress and anxiety during the holidays

The festive season is supposed to be about spending time with the family and enjoying a bit of rest and relaxation. While that is the ideal scenario, it’s also a reality that the end-of-year holidays can be an extremely stressful time for some people, causing them a great deal of anxiety or even depression.

What is holiday stress?

Holiday stress is the feeling of overwhelming anxiety associated with the pressures and expectations of the festive season. Those most at risk are people who have the tendency to overcommit themselves, those who lack additional support or those who find themselves alone during the holidays.

The symptoms of holiday stress

Some of the symptoms of holiday stress and anxiety may include:

  • Constant fatigue and exhaustion
  • Anger or irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Physical ailments, like headaches or heart palpitations
  • Feelings of dread and disappointment
  • Mood swings

The causes of holiday stress    

Some of the causes of holiday stress may include the following:              

  • Loneliness or lack of social support

The festive season can be challenging if you find yourself alone due to circumstances beyond your control. The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) has confirmed that its organisation’s help line receives more than 400 calls each day during the festive season. The majority of these relate to loneliness and anxiety linked to the holidays.

  • Excessive commitments

Some people may overcommit themselves when it comes to catering for friends and family. In addition to their regular routine and responsibilities, they are now expected to provide extra meals, entertainment or hospitality to extended family or visiting friends.

  • Financial pressure

The festive season has become quite a commercialised event, with retailers dazzling us with special offers and amazing products or services that many people feel obligated to purchase (often on credit) for their loved ones. This festive financial pressure can result in extreme stress and anxiety.

  • Poorly managed behaviour

Unfortunately, the festive season has also become a period that is known for irresponsible behaviour such as overindulging with treats that have a high sugar or fat content, excessive drinking and late-night parties. All this can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health, leading to undue stress and anxiety.

6 Ways to beat the holiday blues

There are a number of ways you can combat festive stress and anxiety. Some of these include:

  • Focus on the bigger picture

The holidays are about good cheer and making happy memories. To achieve this you need to strike a healthy balance between taking care of others and taking care of yourself. It’s no good rushing around trying to please everyone at the expense of your health. Take some time for yourself by doing something you enjoy, like reading a book for example.  Take a look at Self-care: an essential ingredient for a healthy body and mind.

  • Set realistic limits and budgets

A sure way to exhaust yourself and ruin the holidays is if you overextend yourself both physically and financially. Many people are pressurised into believing that everything must be perfect, and expensive for the festive season to be successful because it’s a special occasion. Plan ahead with a budget and, once you’ve reached your limit, come up with innovative and creative ways to enjoy the holidays, like going on a hike or having a bring-and-share meal.

  • Give back to your community

A good way to ground yourself during the holidays is by giving back to your local community through volunteering your services at a local charity or by getting involved with a local cause like a church group’s carol singing, a school play or a clean-up crew. Being actively engaged in a worthy cause will help you feel connected with likeminded individuals.

  • Get support and delegate

While you may have spent all year watching the cooking channel and are now itching to serve up a seven-course meal for your family and friends, it’s advisable not to do everything yourself. Get the family involved with the basic household chores and duties and remember that ‘keeping it simple’ is often the most sensible (and tastiest) plan when it comes to meals.

  • Stay active and avoid becoming a couch potato

If you are alone during the holidays, or have a small circle of friends, try not to hibernate on your own as this is a sure way to become depressed over your lack of company. Keep sedentary activities to a minimum and reach out to people during this period. Likewise, if you know of a friend or a neighbour who is all alone, extend your hospitality to them – it will be much appreciated.

  • Be mindful of your behaviour

Although it’s a temptation to overindulge in tasty treats and attend lots of year-end parties, keep a level head and maintain a healthy balance between the festive revelry and sensible well-being. Don’t neglect your health during December: try to eat a balanced diet, get adequate sleep and regular exercise. Your waistline will thank you in the new year.

The festive season should be a time to make special memories with your friends and family.  The reality is that many people suffer from stress and anxiety during the holidays. At Topmed, we encourage healthy living and good mental health, so avoid the holiday stress with our simple tips. Get in touch today and sign up for cover for yourself and your family.


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