There is an expectation that the festive season will be a joyful time. In fact, in one study 45% of the respondents reported dreading the winter holidays. Many people struggle with stress or even depression brought on during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce or eliminate many of these problems. For people with more serious concerns or who would like to determine the underlying causes of holiday stress, seeking cognitive behavioural therapy at a psychology clinic is the best solution. Here are steps you can take to reduce your holiday stress and make them happier.
- Manage Expectations
Christmas movies and songs are filled with nostalgic images of perfect holidays, spent surrounded by loved ones. This can cause us to unrealistic ideas about what our holidays should be like. In fact, a significant portion of people expect some type of family arguments over the holidays. If you are one of these people, it is important to realize you are not allow. The stress of the holidays combined with spending time in close proximity to each other is likely to bring up disagreements. The nostalgic nature of the holiday can also make us more reflect back on old grievances and disagreements. This can, in turn, make tempers shorter and keep irritation and impatience closer to the surface.
Realize that the holidays are filled with stress and possibly even conflict. Accept that your holiday isn’t going to be perfect. Treasure the good and try to ignore the unpleasant as much as possible. Remember than the holidays season is only a portion of the year, rather than all-important.
- Plan Ahead
Trying to do too much has become the hallmark of the holiday season. Most of us have the holiday traditions we love and want to maintain while adding new elements. This can lead to having too many things to try to accomplish in too little time. Combine that with the demands of children’s school events, winter weather, work, and the unexpected, you will probably have less time to prepare than you think.
Start now and begin making lists of the shopping, cooking, entertaining, and other things you want to accomplish. For the shopping list, be sure to determine how much money you plan to spend on each person and make sure your whole list will fit within your budget. Also include in budgeting how much you expect to spend on food, beverages, restaurants, and decorations for the season. Budget issues can be one of the biggest sources of stress over the holidays. It is best to plan now and adjust as necessary than to realize you are out of money before you have completed your shopping. Planning now will help ensure you stay within budget without needing to leave anyone out.
- Do Ahead
Once the holidays arrive, you will be busier with parties and other obligations. Start now and complete as much as you can before the holidays arrive. Many baked goods can be prepared now and placed into the freezer, ready to immerge in time for your entertaining. Even savoury dishes can be prepared now and be ready to pop into the oven.
Shop now for gifts. You’ll save yourself the stress of last minute shopping later plus you’ll have a larger selection of items to select from now. Unless you love wrapping gifts, take advantage of the wrapping offered at stores. There are often charities that will fundraise by offering gift wrapping. You can support them while you take gift wrapping off your list of things to do.
- Get Help
You don’t have to do everything alone. Team up with friends for a day of baking or arrange to make extra baked goods to exchange. Purchase prepared holidays meals so that you can spend your time with family, instead of in the kitchen. This can be a particularly great option if you won’t be hosting enough people to justify cooking an entire turkey. Prepared meals allow you to enjoy the food without the mess, time, and clean-up. Have the whole family help with decorating or pay someone else to do it.
- Get Perspective
Your holidays won’t be perfect. It may not be a white Christmas and Grandpa Joe may fall asleep and snore through dinner. Rather than failures, these are funny stories you will be able to tell for years to come. As long as everyone survives reasonably safe and sound, count it as a win. Always keep in mind that life is short. Your annoying relatives from this year’s Christmas won’t be around forever. Enjoy as much as you can of the time you have with them and try to ignore the rest. Happy holidays!