Reducing Stress During the Holiday Season
Tips For for a Happier Holiday
Stress and The Holidays
Many people look forward to the holidays each year with great expectations for family visits, get togethers with friends, and time to enjoy the season.
The holidays offer great food, much needed time from work and the opportunity to reconnect with loved-ones. While the holidays can be a delightful time, for many, the season increases stress, anxiety and depression. Worry about finances, difficult family dynamics or other troubles can get heavier at this time and the holidays can be an added burden rather than a joyous time.
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 added burden to provide big meals, provide gifts, pay for travel and overextend the budget feels like a heavy weight.
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.
There are a variety of ways to reduce the holiday stress including setting healthy boundaries, having a plan for spending, and being flexible with expectations.
Setting Healthy Boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries is an essential part of having happy holidays. Preparing and sticking to a budget, deciding 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. A clear plan will go a long way to thrive through the season.
What Can Be Done to Prepare for Holiday Stress?
The single best thing that can be done to prepare for holiday stress is to acknowledge that it is part of the season. It is directly tied to the expectations placed on a family that are above the usual expectations of every day living. Just because the holidays are here, does not mean there is an obligation to overextend ourselves.
If you have unresolved chores, bills, family relationships that are strained or projects that are unfinished, do everything you can to manage them before the holidays set in or, if possible, postpone them until the new year.
Clean your home or have a service come in and get things on track. Head to the dump, donate to the thrift store and clear out your clutter. Clean your garage, your gutters and your closets. Pre-write your holiday newsletter, clear out space for the holiday decorations to come down from the attic and make space for what you need. Start picking up baking items or other staples that you know you are going to need now when you have a bit more time.
Touch base with friends and family now 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.
Tips to Reduce Stress During the Season
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. In addition, limit sugar and alcohol, especially now. Eat a simple and nutritious diet throughout the season.
Do not feel obligated to say yes to every invitation you receive, or attend every party or social gathering. Stay involved but choose your activities from the heart rather than from obligation. It is a perfectly acceptable stand to say no to the things that cause more stress than joy.
Stay in the moment. 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.
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.
This is a special and significant time each year. Don't get so busy that you miss the special moments. Stop to watch the children laugh, look at the stars in the sky, listen to the music that only comes this time of year and really hold your loved ones close.
If you are looking for a deeper spiritual experience during this season, please join me for the 13 Holy Nights. From sunset on December 24th to sunset on January 6th is a window of time. An incredibly holy period of time where the opportunity for connection with spirit is stronger than any other time of the year. Earthly energies subside as if we have a direct connection with spirit, and spirit can provide a direct imprint letting our personal mind and earthly energies take a rest. You can find more information at www.13holynights.com.