Too often we take holiday stress for granted. What’s worse, we often have higher expectations for this season than for any other time of the year. Planning for the holidays can leave us feeling impatient, cranky, and — in some cases — depressed. When the realities of day-to-day life conflict with our efforts to make the holiday season perfect, stress results. Unrealistic expectations are a major cause of holiday stress. They can be too high, such as imagining the perfect family gathering, just the right gifts, or the most stunning decorations. On the other hand, expectations may be too low. There are those among us who unnecessarily expect the worst, causing them to dread their family time
Keep It Simple
The holiday season is particularly stressful when you have too much on your plate. This might be the case if you’re welcoming out-of-town guests and hosting family festivities. You don’t necessarily have to cancel your plans, but make sure you’re not setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to do everything yourself. Get your family involved and delegate. For example, instead of taking on the responsibility of preparing an entire meal alone, ask everyone to bring a dish. Or, if you feel that hosting an event at your home is too much, don’t feel obligated to entertain relatives and friends. Know your limitations and learn how to say “no.”
Take care of yourself – It is important that we pay attention to our own needs and feelings during the holiday season. We can find fun, enjoyable and relaxing activities for ourselves and our families. By keeping our minds and bodies healthy, we are primed to deal with stressful situations when they arise. Consider cutting back television viewing for kids and get the family out together for fresh air and a winter walk. Physical activity can help us feel better and sleep well, while reducing sedentary time and possible exposure to stress-inducing advertisements.
Take calm-down breaks – Soon after you awake, close your eyes, take several deep breaths and meditate or just relax. Imagine yourself in a beautiful place, think of a happy memory or visualize yourself succeeding at a cherished goal. “Quieting down your mind before you begin your day can help you get off to a great start and things will flow for you.”
Focus on doing what you really enjoy; don’t try to do everything.
Likely some of your traditions are meaningful and fun, while others are just done because that’s the way it’s always been. Consider letting go of the routines that don’t really add much to your holiday experience and just add to your exhaustion.
Be mindful of what you’re celebrating!
It might be a holy day, a day off from work, or a chance to see friends and family. Celebrate something, and focus on the people who are with you at this time in your life. Life is very precious and worth celebrating, even with all of its imperfections.
Have a peaceful and happy holiday season. May your hearts be full of love, your minds with thoughts of gratitude, and your spirits with hope.