There is nothing worse than unwelcome guests, like your obnoxious uncle or that relative that can’t keep their opinions to themselves. But perhaps the worst unwanted party crasher is stress. And yet, each year we all talk about how joyous a time the holidays bring, but really, under it all we are all one big ball of anxiety. Between shopping, cleaning, entertaining, baking, schedule coordinating, etc., we put so much pressure on ourselves to do it right. But at the end of the day, those who love you and are going to spend the holidays with you, won’t care if everything is just perfect; they just want to be with you.
If the holidays have taken a toll on you in the past, try to stop and regroup this year. Be realistic with the expectations you put on yourself. We often get caught up in traditions and sometimes, we just can’t meet all of them and that is ok.
The holidays are a time for families to get together which also makes it the time of year that family conflict can rear it’s ugly head. There are many Christmas television specials around this very topic and if you have ever watched one of them, they always end with reconciliation. Try to accept family members and friends as they are and take the high road. Be kind, thoughtful, and tolerant and it will likely reduce the stress of others as well.
This is the season of gift giving. It’s also the season of debt and overspending. Create a spending budget and stick to it. Go to the stores with a list and use it. If you see something that you think you must buy that wasn’t on the list, snap a photo of it and go home to think it through. Impulse shopping is usually what pushes us over the edge.
Come January 1, when asked, “How was your Christmas?” most people answer, busy. We anticipate this and add stress before the holidays even arrive. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. You must learn to sometimes say no. Your loved ones will understand if you can't participate in every event.
Don’t forget to breathe. Make some time for yourself, even just 15 minutes alone without distractions (or your phone), may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do.
Stress can ruin your holidays and hurt your health. Be realistic, plan ahead and seek support. You may even end up enjoying the holidays more than you thought you would.
Source: The Mayo Clinic, Stress Management