‘Tis the season not just of being jolly and merry, but of stress, stress, and more stress. Since the holiday season comes at the end of the year, many people are faced with work and financial stressors at the same time as dealing with holiday stressors, making this time of the year one of the most stressful on the calendar.
Here are a few important tips for reducing stress during the holiday season:
- Be realistic. Remember that the holidays are not a Norman Rockwell painting or a Christmas movie. Bad and annoying things will happen along with the good. Don’t expect perfection and you won’t be stressed about achieving it, or depressed when you don’t.
- Create your own road map. Sit down with family and decide how you *want* to celebrate the holiday, not just how you’ve always done it or how you think it should be. Make sure everyone has input and that decisions are made that take all feelings into account.
- Laugh. One of the best ways to diffuse a tense situation is to find something to laugh about. There is plenty of holiday humor out there, share it. And be willing to laugh at the foibles of your family — and yourself.
- Take care of your body. Don’t let the hassles of the holidays interfere with your daily health regime. Eat proper meals, not all holiday snacks. Stay hydrated. Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise. You think more clearly and respond better to stress when you are well-rested and have met the nutritional needs of your body. And everyone knows exercise is a great way to release stress.
- Be charitable. Helping others isn’t an obligation. Study after study proves that giving to those in need makes you feel better about your own situation and can even improve mental health.
- Be honest. Communication about the family’s financial situation, about work obligations, about unrealistic expectations is important. It is also a good idea to talk about the ways everyone in the family can de-stress during the holidays. While you may prefer to go for a walk or run, someone else may need a coffee date with a friend, yoga time, or fifteen minutes alone with a good book. Make sure everyone in the family is on the same page and everyone communicates about their status throughout the holidays.
While it is probably impossible to have a stress-free holiday season, taking the above steps — and coming up with your own — can go a long way to making sure you and your family start the New Year off with more joy and actual peace in your hearts.
Molly Granger is a freelance journalist and frequent guest blogger. She has covered everything from legal profiles (see here) to education to celebrity interviews. She also covers current events and in depth features for local newspapers and magazines.