5 years ago · Leah Fogt · Comments Off on 10 Tips to Help with Holiday Stress
The Holiday Season can be a time filled with joy, excitement, celebration, and togetherness, but many of us don’t experience it that way. Some of us feel overwhelmed, stressed, sad, or alone. There is no doubt that the holidays can be stressful, so here are some tips that might help make your holiday a little easier.
1. Be careful with “shoulds.”
All those old Christmas movies seem to bombard us with ideals and images of how the holiday season “should” be, but that’s fiction! There is no certain way that the holidays “should” be done, so go easy on yourself. If you don’t like or want the traditional way, who’s to say you can’t change things up? Allow yourself to make changes, think outside the box, and do things your own way. If you are doing things out of obligation but not finding them meaningful, enjoyable, or useful, maybe you don’t NEED to do them.
2. Reach out.
If you are feeling alone or isolated this holiday season, consider reaching out. Getting involved in a community activity or event, participating in church or temple, or volunteering are great ways to keep from feeling too alone. You may even consider doing something you’ve never done before. Maybe try going to a place of worship if you never have or check out a local community event you’ve always wondered about.
3. Acknowledge your feelings.
Just like we need to watch out for things we do only because we think we “should”, we need to watch out for feelings we think we’re “supposed” to have. If you don’t feel particularly jolly this Christmas, that’s okay. That doesn’t make you the Grinch or Mr. Scrooge. Maybe you’re grieving this year. Maybe you are exhausted. Maybe you have big worries for the coming year. Whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it and permit the feelings to come, go, and change. Maybe try communicating those emotions to someone you trust. It might help them to understand you, support you, or just be sensitive to your feelings.
4. Set realistic expectations.
We can easily work ourselves to the bone trying to make things just so. We might agonize over creating the best light display on the block, serving the perfect latkes, or buying the perfect present. We might have images of a perfect family meal or the most beautiful party, but the reality is most of our holidays don’t look like “a picture print by Currier and Ives.” Our families are complicated. Our budgets are limited. Be realistic.
5. Say “no” when necessary.
We might be feeling swamped by the magnitude of the season. There seem to be a million events going on in our communities. We might have multiple invitations to gatherings, parties, or functions. Commercials show us a zillion gifts we could buy and our children might have wish lists that seem a mile long. There even seem to be a multitude of charities in need of support this time of year. If we don’t say “no” sometimes, we can easily bust the budget, overfill our calendars, or even overindulge. It’s impossible to do it all, so allow yourself to say “no” from time to time. Decide what your priorities are and focus on those first. Anything else is superfluous.
6. Preserve routines and habits when possible.
Try to maintain a sense of normalcy if you can. Crazy schedules, atypical spending, and special meals can really turn our systems upside down. Whenever possible, try to do things as you normally would. Bedtime routines are a good place to do this – for grown-ups and for kids! Don’t throw all your household rules out the window just because it’s a holiday. Structure and predictability help us stay grounded and keep things from feeling too out of control.
7. Take time out.
The holidays are full of stimulation – special sounds, smells, tastes, colors, sensations, and sights to see. All the lights, tasty treats, songs, etc. mark this special time of year, but sometimes can get a little overwhelming. Every once in a while, give yourself – and your children too! – a break from all the stimulation. Take some time to be quiet. Maybe go for a quiet walk, breathe the fresh winter air. Turn off the music or the TV for a little. Plan for some down time from all the celebrating, and allow yourself and your family members some alone time to decompress. It’ll give your nervous system a bit of a break.
8. Let it go!
(And I’m not talking about Frozen!)
Let’s face it. We all have baggage, complications, and conflict in our lives, so gatherings with family and friends can sometimes be emotionally charged. Now is a good time to set aside any beefs that you may have with others, just briefly. You don’t have to become a doormat or live in denial during the holidays, but having it out with a family member at Christmas dinner probably won’t help you enjoy a stress-free meal. Maybe instead, commit to conflict resolution or healthier boundaries in 2015! Take on some of those challenges carefully in the New Year.
9. Be careful with alcohol.
Celebrations can be full of drinks that we might not get to enjoy year round. The egg nog, fancy wines, cocktails, champagne, and other alcoholic beverages seem to be everywhere we go this time of year! Be careful not to get carried away. Remember what cautions come with any medications you take, know your limits, and certainly make arrangements for a designated driver! There are lots of holiday drinks that you can enjoy that don’t involve booze, too. Hot chocolate, cranberry ginger ale, or a peppermint mocha might make good alternatives. Remember to be sensitive to anyone around you who might be trying to maintain sobriety, and if that person is you, consider fitting an extra AA meeting into your schedule.
10. Accept support.
If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to let someone help! You might accept an extra hug from a consoling friend, talk with a trusted loved one, chat with your pastor, or even schedule an extra therapy session. Sometimes support comes in a less emotional and more practical form, so consider delegating tasks to others to help lighten your burden. Make use of community resources that might help as well. Accepting kindness from others warms two hearts!
Ultimately, keep your eyes on the prize! Try to focus on the reason for your celebration – whatever holiday you recognize. Celebrate family and friends, history, miracles, accomplishment, heritage, community, salvation, the beauty of creation, and your religious beliefs. Hope and pray for peace and a healthy coming year. If you focus on the reason for your celebration, you’ll be more likely to keep a healthy perspective and remember what really matters to you.
Categories: Skills and Resources