With the holiday season right around the corner, family gatherings, holiday parties and gift giving are going to be on everyone’s mind. For some this time can be filled with excitement and joy, but for others, it could be incredibly stressful.

“There is a lot of stress associated with holiday travel, gift giving expectations and time commitment during the holidays,” says Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center behavioral health services medical director Marissa Leslie, MD. “People tend to neglect their feelings and emotions and don’t take time for themselves, which results in feeling stressed and overwhelmed.”

Common Signs of Stress

Stress can cause your mood to change and make you feel anxious, irritable, restless or depressed Some common signs of stress can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Restlessness
  • Changes in diet

Holiday Wellness Tips

Help yourself stay mentally well this holiday season by following these holiday wellness tips from Dr. Leslie:

  • Take care of your body – It’s important to work on healthy habits, such as exercising and eating healthy throughout the year, but particularly during the holidays.
  • Take time for yourself – Just 30 minutes a day doing something you enjoy such as listening to music, meditating or reading can help relieve stress.
  • Don’t worry about having the perfect holiday – Sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned. If you are attending or hosting an event this season be sure to relax and accept that some things may not turn out just right.
  • Don’t overcommit – You might be invited to several holiday gatherings, which can quickly get overwhelming. Do not feel pressured to attend every celebration, only those that are most important to you.
  • Look forward – No matter how your year has gone try to focus on all the good things that are in your future and any positive changes you can make to improve your health and well-being.

“Remember the purpose of the holidays,” said Dr. Leslie. “Focus on the deep meaning and significance the holidays represent and focus on thankfulness and peace, which are the original intentions of the holidays,” says Dr. Leslie.

Marissa Leslie, MD

Marissa Leslie, MD

Marissa Leslie, MD, is the Department Chair of Psychiatry for Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center.

Need help managing stress? Call 800-204-8600 for a mental health consultation.