During the holidays it can be challenging to deal with the stress that comes up. We often have much more to do in addition to dealing with our normal day to day tasks. Our expectations may be high and unrealistic which can lead to disappointment. We may overspend or get depressed because we don’t have the money to buy the gifts we want to. Whatever it is here are a few tips for dealing with holiday stress.
1. Set realistic expectations: If your family doesn’t get along any other time of the year, don’t expect them to get along at the holidays. Often instead of being on their best behavior the holidays can bring out the worst in people. Don’t expect people to be any different than any other time of the year and you won’t be disappointed.
2. Be realistic on what you can do: You may not be able to send personalized holiday cards to your entire extended family, buy everyone the perfect gift, and create the perfect meal for 35. This is meant to be a time of family and fun, don’t set it up so that you are doing so much that you do not get to enjoy it all. People remember the togetherness and interactions, not the holiday cards.
3. Keep up with the self care: Whatever it is that you do to take care of yourself during the year, keep it up. Exercise, meditate, get enough sleep etc. If you don’t have anything you are doing during the year to take care of yourself than find something and start ASAP. We often give up on our self care routines when we need them the most. You have the time if you make it a priority and you should be making your well being a priority.
4. Ask for help: Are you trying to do it all yourself? Ask for help. Family members or friends may be ready and willing to pitch in. You don’t know until you ask.
5. Say No: You don’t have to bake for every party, attend every party, and make costumes for the kid’s holiday pageants. You can and should say no. Again do what makes you feel good and throw out the rest.
6. Have gratitude: Give money to charity, donate your time to charity and practice gratitude for what you do have. Gratitude is good for your health and will make you feel emotionally better.
7. Get professional help if you need it: As a therapist I can tell you this is usually a great time to get an appointment because many people are not following my #3 recommendation. You don’t have to have serious mental health issues to get help, being stressed is enough. Many companies offer EAP benefits which are perfect for this situation. You can 2-10 free sessions. Many of those benefits are within a calendar year so it is a perfect time to use them.