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The holidays are just around the corner, and while often considered a joyous season, we know that this time of year can also be stressful for many people. The holiday season can bring unwelcome feelings of stress and depression. And it’s no wonder. The holidays present a dizzying array of demands — parties, travel, shopping, baking, cleaning, spending, and entertaining, to name just a few.
When stress is at its peak, it’s hard to stop and regroup. We’ve partnered with our Intuit Abilities Network to compile some actionable tips and tricks to help minimize holiday stress:
Acknowledge your feelings. If you can’t be with loved ones or if someone close to you has recently passed away, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. Don’t feel like you have to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.
Reach out. If you feel lonely or isolated, seek out a social community with like minded individuals. They can offer in-person support and companionship. Volunteering your time to help others also is a good way to lift your spirits and broaden your friendships by giving back to your community.
Be realistic. The holidays don’t have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few favorites to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if you can’t be with your family in person, find new ways to celebrate together, such as setting up a date for a video call, or exchanging favorite photos from throughout the year.
Set aside differences. Try to accept family members and friends as they are. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion and try to avoid bringing up hot button issues over the dinner table. Try to be understanding and supportive if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry. Chances are they’re also feeling the effects of holiday stress.
Stick to a budget. Before you go shopping for gifts and groceries, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don’t try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts and the most expensive meals and drinks. If money is tight, consider these financial tips for the holidays, like giving homemade gifts, creating a new tradition of a family gift exchange, hosting a holiday potluck, giving you more time and money back.
Plan ahead. Once you’ve made your lists, set aside specific days to get it all done! While fun, shopping, baking, visiting friends, and other activities can be overwhelming, leaving you drained both physically and emotionally by the end of the day. Planning your menus and making a shopping list will help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to designate helpers for party prep and cleanup ahead of time so you’re not stuck doing it all by yourself at the end of the day
It’s ok to say no. Saying yes when you really want to say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to delegate something else off your agenda to make up for the lost time. If you signed up to bring dessert to a cookie swap, remember that store-bought is ok!
Maintain healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence may add to feelings of stress and guilt while affecting your sleep. Consider having a healthy snack before going out to parties, get plenty of rest, and drink a glass of water for every cocktail you have so you can wake up the next day feeling ready to tackle the new day! Consider participating in a holiday fun run with your family as a new tradition. Including healthy habits during the holidays can help you keep a clear mind while also being social.
Take a breather. With all the hustle and bustle of the season, be sure to take some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may help refresh you enough to handle everything on your to do list (or realize what you can cross off!) Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. This could include: taking a walk at night (with or without some peppermint tea or hot cocoa), listening to your favorite music, getting a massage, reading a book, meditating, putting on a face mask, or doing a YouTube yoga video.
Seek help from a professional. You still may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, feeling physically exhausted, unable to sleep, irritable, and/or unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, remember that it’s ok to talk to your doctor or a mental health professional. If you or a loved one is experiencing emotional distress, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7 support. Call 1-800-273-8255 for free and confidential help.
It’s ok to not feel perfect during the holidays. Remember that this time is fleeting and that we’ll soon be entering a new decade, wherein we’ll all be chasing new year’s resolutions. Take the time you need to take care of yourself while sticking to a budget, being flexible with traditions, and understanding with family and friends. We’re stronger as a community and together we prosper.