The Holiday Stress is Real
Most people look forward to the holidays with great expectations for family, friends and time to enjoy the seasons. The holidays often mean great food, much needed time off from work and the opportunity to reconnect with loved ones.
While the holidays can be a joyous time, for many, they are also stressful and can cause anxiety. Whether finances, family dynamics or other worries are at play, no one is excited about the added stresses that the holidays can bring.
One of the most common reasons that the holidays become stressful is the expectation placed on families who are sometimes overextended emotionally and financially.
The burden to provide big meals, provide gifts, pay for travel and overextend the budget feels like a heavy weight.
Many families begin to stress just about the time they are putting away the Halloween decorations.
Despite the Hallmark channel’s insistence that families all love one another and that being together is all that matters, many families are fractured, busy and unable or unwilling to live in harmony.
The stress is real. Luckily its not too late! You can reduce stress this holiday season with these tips!
Prepare for the Holiday Stress
Knocking some of the things on your to do list early can be a big help. Refill prescriptions, pre-write your holiday newsletter, start picking up staple items now (like paper towels, toilet paper, etc) that you know you are going to need when you are busy.
Touch base with friends and family early and share that you expect times to get so busy that you want to reach out now so you won’t feel pressured later and they won’t feel neglected.
Reduce Your Load
Clean your home or have a service come in and get things on track.
Clear out space for the holiday decorations to come down from the attic and make space for what you need. Head to the dump, or even better donate to the thrift store and clear out your clutter.
Cooking for a large group is another stressor of the holidays. Outsource the cooking by ordering your holiday meal from a grocery store or a local restaurant is another way to cut back on your to do list and reduce stress this holiday season.
Set Boundaries to Reduce Stress
When children are small, parents set boundaries that are clear expectations for their conduct. As long as a child operates inside the boundaries, they are allowed to engage without any consequences. If they step outside of the boundaries, they are redirected back to what is acceptable.
Setting boundaries about the holidays allows for the same outcomes as parenting. Preparing a budget and holding to it, decided whom to share the holidays with and negotiating what activities to participate in will create a sense of calm in a potentially anxious season.
The key to making meaningful boundaries is to do it ahead of time.
Prior to the season, discuss the expectations, finances and opportunities available and make clear decisions about how resources will be used. Once the decisions are made, stick to the plan.
Don’t Buy Everyone Gifts
Gift buying creates a financial and personal stress for many families. Know your limits and don’t fall prey to the obligation of purchasing something for everyone.
If you look up the meaning of the word “gift” you will find the definition includes that the item is voluntarily transferred or given willingly. Gift buying becomes an obligation in a society that focuses so much energy on things. If we are honest with ourselves, many of the things to purchase on our gift lists are obligatory.
Social media will soon be flooded with Christmas trees overflowing with gifts underneath. Don’t allow your self to feel pressured into overspending out of obligation. Instead, spend time with people you love. After all, a precious memory will far outlast the longevity of a purchased item.
Make certain that self-care is a part of the whole family’s lifestyle. Adequate sleep, forms of exercise and down time are important in a season that is all about hustle.
Sometimes taking a vacation to escape the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is the best gift you can give your loved ones. Not a trip trying to catch up with family you haven’t seen all year, but a relaxing vacation where your family makes memories.
Give Where It Matters
The surest way to reduce stress is to freely and willingly give of yourself, your time or your resources for the benefit of others. This is different than giving out of obligation and with resentment.
No matter your finances, your family dynamics or your time constraints, you can give in a meaningful way towards something that is bigger than you and will set your soul at ease.
Spend time on things that matter most
While you may not be able to remove all the stress from the holidays be sure to spend time on the things that matter most.
Stay in the moment.
Focus on the people you love.
Remember the reason for your season.
Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating the holidays, remember to be present and enjoy everything you can about this year because this year will never be here again.