If you are one of those people for whom the holidays bring a certain amount of dread, take heart. You are not alone. Even those who seem blissfully cheery are susceptible to moments of loneliness or despair, often exacerbated by stress. Here are a few suggestions to mitigate that stress:
Take care of yourself. Keep up your healthy habits even when you\’re pressed for time. Now is not the time to skip your yoga class. Continue to eat healthy foods, especially before a party, so you won\’t be tempted to overdo on sweets and drinks. And watch your alcohol intake—make a conscious effort to pace yourself throughout the party.
Be realistic. The holidays are not going to be perfect. You can plan ahead as best as you can, but stuff happens. Try to roll with it. Friends and family understand when the pie crust is burnt or the tree isn\’t decorated as elaborately as last year. The trick is for you to give yourself some slack and try to enjoy the moment.
Accept what you can\’t change. Uncle Harry\’s politics are probably the same as they were last Christmas. Resolve in advance that you won\’t get into an argument with him. Try to see the best in your family and friends and let old grievances go, at least during the holidays. If others get upset, understand that the holidays are stressful for them, too.
Don\’t try to do too much. Do you really need that extra batch of homemade cookies? Would the earth stop spinning if you bought some instead? Or, if it\’s really that important, bake them ahead of time and freeze them. The point is to simplify your life during the busiest time. It takes a little thoughtful planning, but it\’s worth it.
Accept your feelings. You are not required to be jolly if that\’s not how you feel. For many people the holidays trigger remembrances of loved ones who have died. Acknowledge your sorrow and take some time to think about those who can\’t be with you. Remember it\’s normal to feel sad sometimes.
Take some time for yourself. Play soothing music. Sit by the fire. Read some poetry. Take a walk. Calm your mind. Yes, you\’re way too busy this time of year, but it\’s exactly why a little time alone can be so restorative. Surely you can invest a half hour for your own well-being.
But if you\’re really in a pressure cooker with no time to spare, just stop long enough to take a deep breath. A deep, cleansing breath in and then an unhurried, thorough exhale. You have to breathe anyway, so you might as well do it in a way that will help reduce your stress.
Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.Â If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.Â You can reach her here:Â http://www.nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.