Stress and anxiety have been such a hot topic recently, and it certainly pertains to how many of us have been feeling this semester. The work of a recreation professional is never boring, but this school year has seemed to throw even more curveballs at us from every direction. From reductions in staff, to the on-going fight with students about mask wearing, to figuring out how to program for the new normal, it’s been a long semester. Now add in the holiday season and the stress and anxiety are getting real.
The holiday season is supposed to bring feelings of happiness, joy and peace. And, it brings a time where most of us get a holiday break between semesters where we can take a breather from programming and busy facilities. However, the hustle and bustle of the season often leaves us feeling anything but relaxed and refreshed. And in reality, the whirlwind of the holidays leaves us feeling tired, stressed and overwhelmed.
EXTRA CREDIT: The University of California, Berkeley offers the Healthy Holiday Challenge for faculty and staff during the holiday season.
A focus at the holidays usually centers around family and time spent together. And since so many of us did not have this opportunity last year, we may be putting additional pressure on ourselves to make up for what we missed out on.
Then, there’s the financial strain of the holidays. There’s gifts, travel, parties, food, donations and decorations. And the list goes on and on! Even though we have the best intentions in wanting to make the holidays memorable for our loved ones, this all adds up! The financial burden of the holidays is sure to create extra stress this time of year.
How does this all manifest itself?
Well, it may have you feeling overwhelmed. You may be feeling like it’s going to be more work, or more stress, than it will be fun. You may also be feeling guilty for wanting to take some time for yourself during the holidays. Or you may be feeling bad for not being as successful at fitting in everything that you have planned. If you can relate, or these feelings sound familiar to you, please know you are not alone in feeling this way.
What can we do to alleviate the stress and anxiety we’re feeling? Here are some action items you can take to find happiness and help you relax and enjoy yourself this year:
Embrace the Imperfection
Most of us will agree that perfection is not realistic. Yet, we can make ourselves crazy trying to make the holidays perfect. When we let go of the idea that things need to be perfect, we can relax and enjoy ourselves more. The holidays can still be good. They can even be special, even if they’re not perfect. It’s not helpful to go into this holiday season saying or thinking things like, “I hate this time of year,” or “I don’t know that I can get everything accomplished.” It’s more helpful to think along the lines of positivity, for example: “I appreciate the opportunity to spend time and make memories with family and friends.”
Plan Some ‘Me’ Time
This month, make sure to schedule some time alone and unplugged. Allow for some quiet time for yourself to unwind and relax. Spend the time doing something you enjoy which may include reading a book, catching up on your favorite TV show, meditating or journaling. And make sure you take some time to reflect on the year and think about where you see yourself going in the new year.
Move Your Body
Movement, even in the form of informal activity, is good for both our minds and our bodies. It is especially empowering to be intentional about moving in the winter because we’re often not outside and moving around as much. Go for a walk, do some yoga or stretching, lift some weights, or ride a bike. Just make sure you’re moving.