If you find the holidays stressful, you’re not alone.
Some people feel it’s a period of time they just have to get through—to endure. So they grit their teeth and suffer. But if you think in advance about things that might cause you stress and try to prepare for them, you might find you fare better. You might even relax and enjoy the holidays. So here are ten ways to beat stressful situations that can arise.
- Learn from past years. You know what makes life especially stressful if you think about it. Maybe it’s your tendency to spend too much. So make a budget and stick to it. Maybe you run out of time and are up all night wrapping presents and then are too tired to enjoy the holiday. Make a schedule and keep it. And if you tend to take on too much, learn to say no.
- Don’t skimp on your healthy routines. Yes, you’re busier than usual, but your yoga class is more important now than ever. And eating healthful foods that keep you feeling fit and give you energy is crucial. Sure, indulge a little in those office goodies, but just a little. Have a healthy snack before that cocktail party to ensure you don’t overdo on things that aren’t good for you. And get plenty of rest. You need to be at the top of your game.
- Go ahead and cry. Often the holidays can trigger emotions that are dormant the rest of the year. Especially if you’re missing a loved one who has died. Now is the time to acknowledge your loss, accept that you miss them. Remember, you’re not required to feel jolly just because it’s the holidays. Let yourself grieve.
- Be pragmatic when it comes to traditions. Families grow and change. People move to other cities. Some holiday traditions become impractical to continue, so start new ones. Skype with your family in front of the Christmas tree. Video the kids opening presents and share later when you can be together with the rest of your family.
- Accept your family as they are. The holidays are no time for crusading. Yes, Uncle Harold is completely misguided in his belief about whatever it is that makes you crazy. But now is not the time to try to change him. Because you probably can’t change him anyway. So take a deep breath and love him as he is. Set an example as a loving, accepting, non-judgmental person.
- Reach out to others. This is a time of year that can leave you feeling especially lonely when everyone else is busy with family and friends. So call someone you’ve been meaning to keep in contact with. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or offer to babysit your neighbor’s kids while mom goes shopping. Put yourself out there—you’ll feel better and you’ll be doing some good.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you don’t have time to make homemade cookies, buy some. If the tree is crooked and the tinsel is uneven, enjoy it as it is. Perfection is highly overrated and sometimes downright boring. If something isn’t as you wish it would be, try to let it go. Nine times out of ten whatever you’re obsessing about isn’t worth the worry.
- Turn off technology. Beeping and buzzing sounds make it a feat of willpower NOT to check your messages. So turn off your cell, close the laptop, shut down the iPad. The people you are with are more important than any electronic device. Pay attention to them.
- Take time out for yourself. Go for a walk. Meditate. Listen to music you love. Plan to give yourself some down time so you can recharge your batteries and catch your breath. And laugh at every opportunity. It reduces stress hormones.
- Accentuate the positive. Think good thoughts and be optimistic. If you dread getting through the holidays they are bound to be less enjoyable than if you have a positive attitude. So relax and enjoy your family and friends.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional. If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch. You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.