- 1 Tips to conquer holiday anxiety
- 2 How to Reduce Stress During Christmas
Tips to conquer holiday anxiety
Lower your expectations. Life isn’t a Norman Rockwell painting, but we tend to think it should be during the holidays. If you don’t expect perfection from yourself and your family, the inevitable imperfections are less likely to create anxiety.
Limit your activities. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, you could probably attend a holiday event every evening. Commit yourself only to what matters most to you, and graciously decline other invitations.
Examine your traditions. Are you repeating activities year after year simply because you’ve always done them? Allow yourself to eliminate traditions that cause more stress than joy.
Discuss holiday plans as a family. Prioritize together to avoid hurt feelings when activities are dropped and to maximize your creativity in planning a low-stress season.
Define what the holidays mean to you. Prioritizing requires assessing our values. Identify what you value about the holidays and make decisions that reflect those values.
Avoid overspending. It’s tempting to shelve all thoughts of a budget this time of year, but financial concerns can create major stress. Just as you prioritize your time, think about the overall value and long-term impact before making a purchase.
Avoid overindulging in food or drink. Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can all have negative effects on mood, and too much of any food can leave you feeling sluggish and vulnerable to stress. Enjoy holiday treats, but aim for moderation.
Exercise when you can. Exercise can improve your mood, so look for ways to combine physical movement with other activities. Park far from store entrances and take the stairs instead of the escalator. Play in the snow with your kids. (Read my Fitness Tips for Parents for suggestions on changing your thoughts to change your body.)
Ask for help. Look for services like free gift wrap – or pay a few dollars less for the gift and pay to have it wrapped. Share tasks with your spouse and children. Ask guests to bring a side dish or dessert.
Help someone else. In your efforts to simplify, remember that helping others enhances your sense of wellbeing. Combine holiday activities with service, such as serving a meal at a homeless shelter or singing Christmas carols to shut-ins.
During the holidays and year round, the way we spend our time is a choice. Choose to slow down and celebrate what’s most important this holiday season.
How to Reduce Stress During Christmas
Christmas is full of contradictions. It’s a time of joy and family reunions. There will be parties to host and attend, gifts to exchange, holidays to enjoy. And because of all these, Christmas can also be extremely stressful for families.
In fact, according to the National Mental Health Association, nearly 60% of Americans suffer some form of stress-related depression during Christmas as a result of the increased demands of shopping, entertaining, family and relatives. To beat the blues and enjoy the season to the fullest, learn some strategies to keep Christmas as stress-free as possible.
Start Christmas Shopping Earlier
Although Christmas sales generally don’t start until late October or early November, it doesn’t mean Christmas shopping cannot start earlier. In fact, it can be done all year round whenever there are sales. Keep an eye on gift items that are suitable and buy them when there is a bargain. When Christmas shopping is spread over the year, there is less hassle and less financial pinch. Plus, there won’t be frantic and crazy Christmas crowds swarming the departmental stores and shopping malls at other times of the year.
Have Reasonable Expectations of the Holiday Season
Avoid trying to make everything perfect. Setting the goal to make this Christmas the best ever is only going to cause more stress and anxiety. So plan ahead and prioritize things. Expect hiccups and obstacles along the way. Also, don’t be disappointed if this Christmas isn’t the same as it used to be. It may be different but can still be enjoyable.
Get Help with Christmas Cooking
Don’t try to be a supermum and do everything alone. Get help from everyone in the family with cooking and baking chores. If it’s going to be a big, elaborate dinner, it’s a good idea to ask others attending the dinner to contribute a dish. Allocate the dishes beforehand to avoid bringing the same dishes to the dinner. Keeping a copy of the menu close by is also helpful in preventing the hostess from forgetting to serve some of the dishes!
Be Prepared for Unpleasant Relatives
Family gatherings can be uncomfortable if there are some relatives that don’t get along well with each other. Be positive and put up with any unpleasant encounters and remarks. If someone is being rude, don’t bite back. Instead, in a calm manner, let them know such behavior is not appreciated and remind them that in the true spirit of Christmas, everyone should be nice to each other and keep opinions to themselves if they have nothing good to say.
Get Ready for Squabbling Kids
If there are young children in the family, the chaos is likely to increase considerably. Children may fight over gifts and toys, spill drinks on the carpet, throw a tantrum to get mum’s attention,or bite a visiting child. Granted, it’s hard to keep an eye on them when there is so much going on. If possible, assign an older child or a relative to watch over them while mum and dad are busy entertaining guests or preparing meals.
Have a Family Christmas Tradition
Having a special Christmas tradition within the family can be great way to relax and unwind during Christmas. Some families enjoy driving around the neighborhood on Christmas Eve to look at Christmas lights and decorations; reading Christmas stories aloud to the kids; making gingerbread houses with the kids; inviting people with nowhere to go over for the Christmas dinner. Start your own family Christmas tradition to make the big day even more special.
When families are prepared for the busy time at Christmas, the stress level will drop significantly. So it’s a good idea to plan and shop early, get help whenever possible, be prepared for possible unpleasant encounters at family gatherings and keep the kids under control. With less stress, the whole family will be able to enjoy Christmas the way it should be enjoyed.