Enjoying the holiday season while under stress

Each year it seems that Christmas comes a little earlier. The day after Halloween, scented pinecones and greenery emerge, filling aisles of stores with sounds of Bing Crosby crooning the tune of “White Christmas” for all to hear.
As we grow older, though, Christmas nearing means exams and project deadlines approaching.
As the cheer of the season comes, it brings the anxiety of finals with it.
Sometimes when our senses become overwhelmed, it is frustrating to feel as though our stress is holding us back from enjoying the season.
There is an important line to be drawn, though.
A crucial thing to remember is that it is only November.
Commercially, it makes sense to wear people down with the idea of Christmas now so they will draw more crowds and their sales will increase.
Realize that it is not a race to December.
Manage your expectations and make sure your commitments do not come second to your mental and physical health.
Part of the holidays is reflecting on what is important to you, so make sure you put your academics as well as your mental health near the top.
Your friends and family are there for you, and in this season, it is important to communicate if you feel overwhelmed. It is OK to share your responsibilities and to take a break when you need it.
Making constant plans can be more harmful than helpful, and if your peers truly care about you, they will understand you taking time to yourself.
Set aside time to do nothing, even if the idea absolutely kills you because you have a thousand assignments to do and chores to be completed and shopping to be done.
Practicing gratitude and mindfulness is just as effective, if not more so, to your appreciation of the holiday season, rather than mindlessly shelling out cash in an attempt to please everyone.
Focus on whatever is next.
Even before Christmas, there is Thanksgiving. Thinking about what you need to get your best friend for Christmas can wait until after you study for public relations.
Also, it is Erie, so there will be snow here for at least the next four months. Rushing a white Christmas might not be the best idea in the world.
That being said, as tests come and go, celebrate each little victory. My favorite is getting the holiday cake pops at Starbucks with a friend after an exam, because not only does Starbucks capture the essence of the holiday season within the confines of their little stores, but savoring the sweet things is just as essential.
Even if by small steps, we will get through this holiday season and as a reminder: everything will be OK.

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