The holiday season can definitely be a stressful time for many. While it is a time where people come together, often the objective of buying everyone gifts or long distance traveling can put stressors on the body and mind. With the coming winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder can also play a role in the mood or behavior of a person. The holiday season is a time of pure joy, but it can also a time of intense stress.

Research has revealed some links between the holiday season and an increase in psychiatric concerns. There are instances where psychiatric concerns are reduced during the holiday. However, according to empirical research done by Doctors Lori Sansone and Randy Sansone, and published in December 2011 issue of Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, there does appear to be an increase in symptoms regarding the “worsening of mood and alcohol-related” issues.

In one such analysis of a study conducted in 1980, the “three most endorsed study themes were loneliness, anxiety, and helplessness.” Families are diverse sets of people that can grow up in similar circumstances but with varying different experiences. When you mix family with feelings of being lonely, anxious, and helpless, a lot of behaviors come out that may not be beneficial.

Here are some tips to prevent the worst and expect the best:

1.       Surround Yourself With Good People
Good people are whoever make you feel content and whole. It can be a family member or friend. These are the people who understand you and knows your limits and let you stay within those limits. Good people have your respect and, with that respect, can hold you accountable if they think you might be crossing the line behavior-wise. They can drive you home if you have had too much to drink (and they are sober), they can be your wingman or wingwoman for dealing with difficult social situations, and they can be there for you during tough times. The saying “You are who you surround yourself with” is good to remember when you consider this helpful tip. Good people can empower you and help decrease your feelings of anxiety and helplessness. Surrounding yourself with good people can also help reduce the feeling of loneliness.

2.       Set Your Own Personal Limits
During the holidays, we might imbibe a little too much to deal with the stress of being with difficult family members. Other times, we might cross the line when we find ourselves in heated conversations with complicated friends. Avoiding these harmful behaviors and the risks behind them starts with setting personal limits. A personal limit can be simple, like ending a conversation early if you feel yourself getting emotionally turbulent. Realizing that anger clouds rational thinking is important when considering where you set your limits. It is okay to walk away from something that makes you angry. Human beings were not meant to live in a constant state of anger. This is why it is important for the body to recognize the beginnings of anger and remove the opportunity to become angrier.

3.     Personal Limits – Alcohol & Food
There is often an uptick in alcohol consumption during the holidays, and the consequences that result thereafter. Mixing any type of substance to mask emotional turmoil is dangerous, so setting limits of what you put into your body is important. In addition to this, food can also be a problem. When you eat, eat healthy portions. If you drink, drink in a social and supportive environment.

4.       Don’t Go
You know yourself best. The joy you receive from seeing many family members and the hesitancy of seeing a few others. The joy should override the hesitancy when going to an event or gathering. Enthusiasm and good social contact can improve a person’s overall health. Tension and social stress can do the exact opposite. Many people, after an extended period of stress and adrenal overload, tend to get sick. This is because the body finally has time to recover and rest from that period of stress. If you feel like the stress of going to an event can override the joy, then it is time to consider if you should even go. The old saying “The best present is your presence” is important when thinking about this. The holidays might not be the right time to be present, so visiting with family and friends may be better suited once the holidays have passed and you are feeling emotionally better.

There are a lot of stressors during the holidays. While a lot of amazing things happen to bring people together, many individuals still feel like they are alone, anxious, or helpless. Put the power back into your decisions and actions with these simple tips. Being present is the best presence. But self-care is so important for healthy interactions with other people. Take care of your stressors and look forward to your joys. We are all trying to do our best as we go about living in this beautiful world.