This is the time of the year when we should be having fun with our family and friends, but the truth is that the holidays can be very stressful for many of us. They present a series of demands that include shopping, entertaining, parties, and lots more. Because we tend to set high expectations for the holiday season, it is not surprising that most of us experience some holiday stress.
What causes holiday stress?
For many of us, most of our holiday stress results from interacting with our family. This might be caused by sad memories of past holiday seasons. It might be caused by the changes that have occurred in the life of another family member, or by the changes that haven’t occurred in ours. It might simply be caused by having to suffer through the same family gatherings, with the same people, and the same food.
No matter what is causing your holiday stress, these 7 strategies can help you deal with your stress, and may even help make your family get-togethers fun again.
1. Acknowledge your feelings.
If you have lost a family member this year, the holidays can bring back feelings of sadness and loss. Understand the fact that it’s okay to feel sad, and be willing to express your feelings to other family members. Sharing stories of the good times that you spent with a lost family member can help the whole family feel better.
2. Set realistic expectations.
Speak to your children regarding holiday activities and their expectations for gifts. Holiday stress can be minimized by taking action to make sure everyone has the same goals and expectations for the holiday season. While you should never expect your family holidays to be perfect, you can minimize stress by making sure that the whole family has the same expectations.
3. Do something different.
If your normal family get-together is the source of your stress, try something different. If you’re overwhelmed with being the host, ask another family member to help out. You might even want to plan the family holiday dinner at a local restaurant instead of your home. Trying something new and different can reduce or eliminate your stress.
4. Don’t expect miracles.
If your holiday stress comes from a history of family conflict, you shouldn’t expect any miracles during the holiday season. You probably will not see a huge break-through in ongoing conflicts, but you can focus on how you can react in positive ways when the conflict happens.
5. Just say no.
Saying yes when you know that you should be saying no can create feelings of resentment and overwhelm. Be honest with your friends and family, and help them to understand that you cannot participate in every event. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t say no to a family event, look for other activities that you can remove from you schedule to minimize your stress.
6. Set differences aside.
Accept your relatives for who they are, even if they don’t meet your expectations. Save grievances for a more suitable time, and be understanding if others get frustrated and angry. They are probably experiencing the effects of holiday stress too.
7. Prepare a budget.
Decide the amount you can afford to spend prior to food and gift shopping. Do not be forced to spend more than what you can afford. Follow your budget as much as possible and remember that happiness can never be bought with gifts.
I wish that I could help you to eliminate all of your holiday stress, but I can’t! However, you can minimize it by employing these 7 proven strategies.
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