It’s inevitable. It seems no matter how well we plan and organize, something inevitably disrupts even the best laid plans for the perfect holiday.
Someone gets hung up at work, favorite ornaments are broken or the Christmas tree lights are hopelessly tangled. We run out of money long before we get to the end of the gift list, or the turkey comes out dry when we have a house full of hungry guests. We never seem to find time to bake those holiday cookies we were going to share with the neighbors, there’s a part missing from the new toy, or the kids can’t stop bickering and eventually frustration and stress takes over.
Believe it or not, taking care of yourself is one of the most important stress reducing tactics, and least selfish things you can do this time of year. The better you feel and the more energy you have, the less stress you will experience from typical holiday mishaps and disruptions, and the more you can be available to those you love and cherish.
5 More Strategies to Beat Holiday Stress
Some people pride themselves in their ability to juggle many things at one time. The problem is that multi-tasking not only increases stress, but research has proven that we are far less efficient and accurate when we attempt to carry out multiple tasks at the same time. Doing just one thing at a time will help you feel more in control, and experience a greater sense of calm in the midst of a frantic or chaotic day.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
Realistic expectations isn’t about doing without, or even doing less, it’s about planning better and remaining adaptable. Rare is the Christmas, Hanukkah or other holiday celebration that turns out perfect. A lopsided tree or a burned brisket won’t ruin your holiday; but with a sense of humor and the right attitude, it will create a family memory.
Kids Also Experience Holiday Stress
Helping children cope with holiday stress involves knowing their personalities and limits.
- Combine parties and get-togethers to reduce the time you spend partying.
- Stick with their established routines as much as possible.
- Keep stressful holiday shopping and eating out to a minimum; start preparing for Christmas early to avoid holiday anxiety.
- Limit holiday treats and make sure your children eat nutritious foods, drink lots of water, and get exercise.
- Talk to your children about traditions and spirituality.
- Bring a favorite blanket or stuffed animal if you’re staying with family over the holidays. A bit of home will reduce your child’s holiday anxiety.
Alone Doesn’t Have to Mean Lonely
For those who are separated from loved ones, newly divorced, or who have suffered the death of a loved one, the holidays can be a time of sadness and even depression. There are also those who do have family, but would rather do pretty much anything other than see them; for them too, it can be a lonely season.
Rearranging Christmas to suit your situation at the moment can take many forms. It could mean having a quiet Christmas at your house this year, or inviting others you know who are also spending Christmas alone. It could mean going to a restaurant for Christmas dinner, or skipping the whole thing and heading somewhere warm. It really is up to you, but the most important thing is the act of choosing because that is the magic ingredient to overcoming sadness and adapting to change.
Family dynamics present us while a myriad of challenging opportunities during the holidays. For example, your parents (or in-laws or close friends) are divorced and don’t get along, but you want to invite them both to Christmas dinner.
Regardless of the circumstances, sometimes you have to have separate celebrations for the sake of family harmony, but whatever you decide, inform both parties ahead of time so they don’t show up and feel surprised.
The truth is it’s not that difficult to reduce or beat holiday related stress if we would simply recognize ahead of time what our vulnerabilities are and make the time to plan accordingly – learn to prioritize and have more realistic expectations – and stop over committing ourselves.
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