WCCU Family Blog
De-stress The Holidays
Add family tension, extra gatherings, additional spending, and getting year-end tasks completed and there you have it! A mixture for disaster and anxiety.
Why take that path if you don’t have to? You can enjoy yourself and the season. Here are a few tips on making the holidays truly merry for everyone.
Have realistic expectations. If your children at a young age and throughout the year have struggled with going to new places or with different people, rest assured this will probably play out the same way over the holidays. Know this going into the situation and adjust as needed. The same goes for adults, if your relatives have squabbled throughout the year, why would the holidays change anything.
There is also the pressure we put on ourselves to create the perfect season, with the right presents, food, decorations, cards, dress, and so the list goes on. Setting unrealistic expectations not only for ourselves but also for those we love only leads to disappointment and tension.
The discrepancy between what you expect and how reality plays out is the space of disappointment and unhappiness. Take a hard look at the reality of your expectations and try not to be perfectionistic. Being relaxed and happy is a better way to be throughout the season. Besides, when things go astray that is when the most unforgettable memories happen!
Try to anticipate stressful situations. There are times we know exactly how a gathering will play out because it’s an annual event. Think about what you can do to minimize the conflict and change the outcome to be more positive. Come prepared with a few words to help maintain a sense of calm.
Keep routines. Some people tend to get upset when their daily routines are altered, which often happens during the holidays. Try to keep your core rituals a part of the mix, such as diet, sleep and exercise. This will give you more energy and are key stress relievers.
Surround yourself with calm. Creating a sense of calm in your various environments can keep you more even when it comes to stressful situations. Play calm music in your car, work and at home. Bring objects that relax and balance you such as therapeutic oils or a favorite blanket.
Pay close attention to your body, emotions, thoughts and actions. Our bodies experience physical sensations of stress and anxiety thanks to the sympathetic nervous system, the old fight-or-flight system. One tension reliever is breathing exercises or holding a warm cocoa or coffee and relaxing the overall body. Encourage positive emotions by focusing on the good experiences associated with the holidays. Keep thoughts in the moment; don’t let the should and musts consume your emotions. Living in the moment and being present, without past regrets or planning the future creates a simple fullness. Remember it’s acceptable to slow down, breathe and do less. Giving the gift of your full attention to others might be just what you and your loved ones need.
Have fun! Plan very simple activities and games which include even the most challenging of relatives. You might find the relationship flows easier in the moment since you’re both enjoying the fun. Besides, wouldn’t the holiday experience be better if we could restore relationship instead of tearing them down?