Yesterday I led a workshop that focused on holiday stress. We’re less than a week away from Thanksgiving, and that’s the opening bell for 5 weeks of celebration.
Sources of holiday stress
While you may like all the festivities, you may also find them stressful. These stressors could be:
- Living up to others’ expectations
- Attempting to do too much
- Changing habits for eating, exercising, sleeping
- Getting together with people that aren’t easy to be with
- Illness (all that closeness and hugging)
- Too much darkness and cold
- [Add your stressors here]
In the workshop, I usually open by telling them the secret to having a great holiday. It’s simple.
Figure out what you want and do that.
Of course this is easy to say, hard to do. Three problems get in the way.
- You don’t know what you want. Perhaps you never thought to even ask yourself the question.
- You may not know how to get what you want.
- What you want may conflict with what the other important people in your life want and you don’t want to deal with the discomfort that can create.
Okay, I get it. It’s tricky. At least it appears so. Have you tried it? Maybe it won’t be as hard as you think.
Ways to beat holiday stress
- Have a vision for what you want. If you want to spend less, have more time alone, and eat more vegetables; set that as your intention and make it happen for you.
- Do tasks because you want to, not because you think you should. If you like sending out holiday cards, go for it. If that seems like a chore you need to check off your list every year, skip it.
- Go easy on things you know make you feel bad. Have you ever felt good after stuffing down a huge holiday meal? How about after drinking too much? You know the consequences. Nobody is forcing you to overindulge. Make better choices.
- Avoid touchy subjects at family gatherings. If there isn’t a compelling reason for you to share your political beliefs with all the relatives, then don’t do it. Likewise, if someone tries to share them with you, don’t take the bait.
- If things seem to be going sideways, lighten up. Tight quarters, a couple glasses of holiday cheer, and family history often combine to create a tense situation. You might not be able to control what happens, but you can control your reaction. Take it as it is. Enjoy yourself.
- Don’t spend what you don’t have. Needing to rely on credit card debt to finance your holidays is a bad idea. The best parts of the holiday don’t need to cost a lot. Stretching yourself to create the perfect holiday is going to put you in a tough spot when the bill comes due. Think before your spend.
- Set your expectations appropriately. You know how these gatherings often turn out. Thinking it’s going to be different this year is probably a mistake. Believing it’s going to turn out like a Hallmark made-for-TV movie will lead to disappointment.
- Ask for help. You don’t need to do it all. If everyone expects you to create the perfect holiday, it’s time for them to take responsibility for the experience they want to have. And if it seems like they don’t care enough to help, they may not care if you don’t do it either.
- Take breaks. If the hustle and bustle start to overwhelm you, it might be time to send your regrets for a party that you don’t want to attend. Even bundling up and taking a walk on a crisp night is a good way to recharge.
What are your best tips for making the holidays more fun and less stressful? Share them in the comments.
Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy your celebrations.
Image credit: Satya Murthy