It's important to look at why the holidays are hard for so many people. There is a lot of cultural conditioning around the holidays. We are socially conditioned to have grand expectations around this time. For instance, many individuals have an idealized vision of a beautiful home and a happy family that communicates in perfect harmony. Thus, many people experience disappointment because their holiday experience does not live up to this vision of “perfection.”
Further, holidays can serve as a milestone. You may start to think about previous holidays and how your life has changed since that time. You might also think about people who have passed away and how the loss impacts your holiday traditions. Additionally, financial stressors can be in full force around the holiday time, as often there are many added expenses.
So how can you stretch your mental muscles and get everything done without feeling totally overwhelmed? The following are some tips for effectively managing holiday stress.
1. Manage your expectations.
Keep your expectations for the holidays manageable and don’t try so hard to make it “the best holiday ever.” It’s important to start by setting some realistic goals and prioritizing the things that you need to accomplish. If you are able to delegate some of your tasks, do so.
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and merriment. However, this doesn’t mean that you can simply put aside difficult situations in your life. Allow room for yourself to experience negative emotions. It’s also important to make sure that you have a support system in place. Try identifying at least one person who you can reach out to, if you are struggling over the holidays.
Each holiday season is different, however there is still something to celebrate every year. It’s important to be gentle with yourself if you are struggling with tough times. Try not to dwell in feelings of disappointment if the holidays don’t feel as exciting as they have in the past. Each year, the holidays can be great in a new and unique way. Even if you are struggling with loss or life transitions, you can still work to practice gratitude for the ability to form new rituals this year.
2. Give back to others.
Giving back to others is one way to focus on the true meaning of the holiday. You might decide to assist an organization or family that needs extra care. Another great option is to volunteer at a soup kitchen or visit an elderly person in your community. Buying food cards or giving a donation to an agency can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Don’t be afraid to try something that you’ve never done before or to explore some new holiday activities. You might consider sharing what you are doing with a close friend or colleague. It is always nice to have added support from others in our lives when embarking on something new.
3. Spend time around uplifting people.
Lastly, it’s crucial to spend time with people who are positive and uplifting this holiday season. If you have to be around people who drain your energy, try to limit your time with them. Also make sure to find some alone time to recharge your batteries. You might be spending a lot of time caring for others, however it’s also important to practice self-care and relaxation. You deserve to take some time out for yourself as well.
The Bottom Line
Through using some of these simple strategies, you might find that your holiday stress is more manageable.
How are you stretching your holiday muscle and managing stress this holiday season? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below.