The winter holidays are here, and with the right perspective and some advance planning, they can truly be the “most wonderful time of the year.”
Too many of us approach the holidays with unrealistic expectations and that ends up creating unnecessary stress. Many people frustrate themselves by trying to do everything and to do it perfectly. They don’t get to enjoy this time because they exhaust themselves and end up feeling overwhelmed. It’s essential to keep in mind that the whole point of the holidays is not the lavish home cooked meal, the gorgeous table setting or the extravagant gift, but the gathering of the people we love and spending time with each other.
Here are some strategies to minimize holiday stress:
Be easy on yourself. If you have to stay up all night baking pies, then you’re going to be irritable. Your loved ones want your company more than a perfect dessert.
Accept help. If someone offers to bring a dessert or appetizer, let them.
Don’t try to use the holiday to try to bring together people who don’t get along. That may work in the movies, but in real life, it’s unlikely. Instead of one event with everyone, try several small ones, separating the parties who always have conflict.
Simplify! Don’t underestimate the importance of simple fun. Do things as a family: hayrides, holiday parades, caroling, or simply driving through the neighborhoods to see the beautiful decorations.
Don’t put yourself into debt – you will surely regret it, as you end up paying all year for holiday expenses.
Practice moderation in everything: food, alcohol and even partying. You don’t have to go to every event!
Set boundaries: no discussion of politics or other divisive topics!
Friction with loved ones can come to the forefront at the holidays and that can create emotional pain. If you know that friction is likely, prepare yourself. Have a response ready so that you are not caught off guard and forced to react. Respond, don’t react. And keep your focus on time with the people you love, enjoy and cherish.