Taking the Stress Out of the Holidays

Taking the Stress Out of the Holidays

With the holiday quickly approaching it seems like the perfect time to discuss coping with holiday stressors and enjoying the holidays the way they were meant to be. So often we get caught up in the “Hallmark holiday extravaganza” and forget why we have this time of year.

First we need to examine and explore our expectation not only our own but our loved ones. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to “do” the holidays differently and breaking tradition but Christmas Day isn’t the day to break it to the family that this is the year the dinner is going to be completely vegetarian, including the tofu turkey. When expectations are there, there needs to be discussion if things are going to change. Remember what might be a small tradition for one might be the favorite part of the holiday for another.

The holidays can also create dread for some. You might be dreading it. Dreading it. Remember to put it in perspective. It is only one day. 24 hours. 6-8 of those you are sleeping, an hour getting ready an hour eating-that is already a bunch of hours used up not celebrating the holidays and then within 24 hours it is over.  Don’t give it more power than it should be given.

Other ways to cope:

  1. Have fun. It’s a fun time of year. We make it stressful.  The holidays however are designed to be enjoyed.
  2. Be realistic. The day, season won’t be perfect. Those with financial hardships, addiction issues, grieving, mental health issues won’t “get better” just because it’s the holiday season. Sometimes the holidays can increase these feelings or situations. Be aware of those around you and encourage them to get support if needed and get help for yourself, if needed.
  3. Focus on your feelings and keeping them “in check.” If you offend, make amends. Even if you didn’t mean if, be the bigger person. Apologize. It can make a huge difference not only for the day but for several holidays to come.
  4. Holidays are not perfect. They are a special time but not perfect. Remember the first Christmas was in a manger because there was no room at the inn. It was a blessed and perfect Christmas. Embrace the imperfectness of the holiday seasons. These are often the moments that are most cherished.
  5. Make a list of what you’re going to buy, activities you’re going to do and who you’re going to spend time with. You can’t do it all, buy it all or be everywhere. Impulsive decisions are easy to make during the holidays and can have some less then positive consequences.
  6. Plan time in your busy schedule to do nothing but enjoy this time of year. Looking at the lights, sitting by the fire, walking through the snow.
  7. Eat, drink and be healthy. Too much is too much.
  8. Feel your feelings. Holidays can be bittersweet. Acknowledge this.
  9. If you’ve lost a loved one this year, find ways to incorporate this loss into your tradition- stories about the loved one,  a picture of them under the tree or a special memento of them placed in a central location. If you have someone in your life that is grieving be aware the holidays might be very difficult for them.
  10. Remember, above all, this is a blessed season. Count your blessings and enjoy.