I love the holidays. I absolutely adore them. Despite this, I suffer from terrible anxiety during the holiday season. The mix of end of semester stress and seasonal affective disorder is a deadly combo for most students. I love seeing family, giving presents, and, of course, the beautiful East Coast snowfall; yet something still upsets me throughout the season.
There is at least one guaranteed breakdown scheduled for every holiday. During Thanksgiving, it was right before we were leaving for dinner. We were late, it was cold, and I just absolutely could not find a pair of pants to wear. So then I proceeded to bawl… over pants, because that’s clearly a healthy way to deal with stress. It wasn’t necessarily the pants that caused the breakdown, but I do credit them for pushing me over the edge. The stress of seeing family, being rushed and sleep-deprived is what did it for me. I learned that holidays are harder in college. There is so much pressure on coming home for holidays and seeing your family that it can often be overwhelming.
Like my Thanksgiving fiasco, this is how my holidays usually start out. I love my family and enjoy the holidays more than anything, but something about the pressure of seeing them after so long apart seems to drive me into a panic. The idea of possibly letting them down, such as wearing something as small as a pair of pants that weren’t the ones I wanted, is enough to stress me out. Unlike some, I am very close with my family, but I still feel these stress-induced side effects.
The idea of being grateful can feel extra difficult for those who may not have a close relationship with their family or are overcome with the stress of school (or let’s be honest, the stress of life in general). Remember that the holidays can mean different things for everyone, and self-care should absolutely be apart of your holiday. Seeing friends from home, going to eat at your favorite restaurants and being able to go to your home gym are small things that can help the transition back home be a little easier.
What I personally look forward to most about the holidays is the fuzzy socks. It is very difficult for me to be stressed whilst wearing fuzzy socks and cuddling in for a good Netflix binge. I have accepted that stress is an unavoidable part of the holidays and being home, and because of that fact, I make sure to spend a little extra time taking care of myself.
It may be hard to find what exactly helps reduce your stress and boost your mental health during the holiday season, but it is rewarding. Through the many stressful things that may bring you down, the holiday season has many reasons to fight through the stress and relax as well. So, when the season begins to bring you down, remember the little things like hot chocolate, twinkly lights and being with the people you love, whoever those people may be.
It is more than okay to be stressed during the holidays, as long as you find time to also enjoy it and take care of yourself.