The weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year can be a time of joy, sharing and wonder. It can also be a season of contradictions, unrealistic expectations and disappointment. This blog post is intended to give you some ideas on why this can happen and help you anticipate issues and plan ways to cope.
It can be helpful to take time and identify what is important to you and where you want to spend your time and energy this holiday season. Is it also a good idea to evaluate the stressors you can choose to control and change versus the ones with which you can only cope. After all, when it comes to managing stress, we can eliminate the stressor or learn how to cope. Do you have to attend four family gatherings on Christmas Day? If so, find and use some coping techniques (deep breathing, positive self-talk, etc.) that you can use to survive a chaotic day.
Avoid basing your happiness on how other friends of family members behave. Instead, change your response to the behavior. If Uncle Harry usually drinks too much and starts telling old worn-out stores, chances are he’ll do it again. You can decide to take a walk after dinner or otherwise divert yourself.
Don’t expect things to be perfect. The greeting card ads of perfect families having fun together can make our own family come up short in comparison. This can create false expectations. Allow for tears, frustration, anger, stress and fatigue. The holidays are stressful for everyone, especially for kids. Build in down-time.
Take care of yourself. Allow yourself to eat good food and stop when you feel full. Get plenty of rest and exercise.
Pay attention to your spiritual side. Live in the moment. Notice the little things that make the moment special.
Simplify. Decide what must get accomplished and what can get dropped.
Remember people won’t remember what you do or say, but they will remember how you made them feel; this includes ourself. Make a plan to reflect on this holiday season as one of more happiness and less stress.