Holiday Stress – Managing to Enjoy the Season
Holiday stress aside, this is an exciting and inviting time of year. The atmosphere is vibrant with the colors of celebration with family and friends. The spark of our inner child shines with the warmth of the season and the joy it represents. As a child, this simply meant soaking it all in and enjoying the lights, food, sweets, and gifts. As an adult, it can be stress inducing. We are aware of the time, preparation, and stress that comes with the season. The holidays, though wonderful, can bring about anxiety and tension if we are not diligent in managing our time, setting boundaries, and taking good care of ourselves in the process. The holidays can remain a fun and loving experience if we do not lose ourselves in the expectations and angst that often come with trying to create the ideal holiday experience. Selecting gifts, cooking, attending holiday parties, hosting guests and being with family for extended periods of time can take a toll. Old wounds and tensions can arise and we may get caught up in the physical and emotional pressure and exhaustion. So, it is important to take time in advance to consider how you can create a loving and peaceful holiday season that is enjoyable and jolly.
Practical Guide to Managing Stress
Following are some ideas that may help you to better manage the season to avoid holiday stress and maintain peace in your heart!
- Leave politics at the door. We’ve just been through a contentious election process and we are indeed sensitive to the opinion and position of others. The country appears divided but that does not mean that we should be! There is plenty of time throughout the year to voice your thoughts and no one’s opinion will change over a dinner discussion that very well may alienate someone and hurt feelings.
- If feelings have been hurt, forgiveness and acceptance may be the way. Setting healthy boundaries and not letting them push your buttons will help you more easily deal with uncomfortable and trying situations.
- Plan your season and decide what you want and don’t want to do. You can say “No” so that you can better manage time and tasks and not be left exhausted. Maintain your energy so you can enjoy the most important parts of the season. You are not obligated to participate in everything and you can bow out early if needed.
- Expect that things will not be ideal. As much as we plan and labor, things do not always live up to our expectations. The holiday does not have to be perfect and neither do you!
- If family is far away and you’re unable to join them, get out and about and enjoy places where lights, music, and cheer are waiting. You can also take advantage of the season of giving by helping those in need.
- Remember the reasons for the season: friendship, family, love, and cheer. You don’t have to overextend your wallet to enjoy the company of others.
- Rest and take time for yourself. Exercise and use healthy coping skills to manage your mood and attitude.
- Keep it simple! The holiday does not have to be elaborate or complex, neither do the gifts, to be enjoyable. Simplifying allows you to relax into the season in a calmer and more thoughtful way.
- Be mindful! Not just in meditation, which is a sure way to reduce stress and anxiety but, in daily activities like moving, eating, and shopping.
- As the holiday winds down, be aware of changes in mood as you get back to life as normal. Plan some personal time at the end of the season and recuperate and regenerate.
Slow Down and Enjoy the Season
These tips can help you to slow down and have space to enjoy the season and the time you choose to spend with others. Think about what makes the holiday special for you and make sure to include these fun and heartwarming gifts to yourself. May your holiday season be warm and full of joy.
Jody Morgan is a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Boca Raton, Florida. He focuses on treating those affected by trauma, depression and anxiety. He is a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional and an EMDR Certified clinician. Contact Morgan Center at 561-366-2476.