The holidays offer plenty of reasons to be stressed out and anxious.With holiday activities family reunions looming in your calendar, what are some ways that you can prepare yourself and cope better this season? Let us share some tips learnt from experts for beating holiday stress and anxiety
What Causes Holiday Stress?
First, ask yourself this: What about the holidays gets you down. For many people, holiday stress is triggered by:
- Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet.For instance the memory of a lost loved one ,a lot of childhood memories come back,” says Duckworth, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School.
- Toxic relatives. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year. People struggling to make ends meet in the family may face stigma, too.
- What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives — a divorce, a death in the family, Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.
Controlling Holiday Stress
Experts say that the holidays can make people feel out of control. We feel at the mercy of our relatives or steamrolled by the sheer force of family tradition. But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you.
Changing Your Outlook
The next step is to challenge some of your assumptions. If you enjoyed the holidays differently this year, what would happen?Your gut feeling might be: Calamity! Disaster! But get past that initial reaction. Think about what would really happen.
The key is to be conscious about what you’re doing. This holiday season, don’t unthinkingly do things the same way just because that’s how you always do them. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do something different.
Tips for Beating Holiday Stress
Once you’ve taken a clear look at the holidays — about what works and what doesn’t — it’s time to make some changes. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. That includes making different plans and changing your responses to situations.
Here are five tips for beating holiday Stress.
- Don’t do the same old thing. If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you’re too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this year.
- Don’t expect miracles. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deeper history of family conflict, don’t expect that you’ll be able to resolve any big underlying issues now. Sure, it’s supposed to be a season of forgiveness and good will. But in the midst of a hectic holiday season, you can’t pin your hopes on leading family members to big emotional breakthroughs. You may be better off focusing on your own state of mind and confronting difficult issues during a less volatile time of year.
- Don’t overdo it. To reduce holiday stress, you have to pace yourself. Long before the family gatherings actually happen, decide on some limits and stick to them. You may wish to stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to drop by the holiday party for a couple of hours instead of staying all night.
- Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” says Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But in fact, most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.
- Do make a decision to enjoy yourself against all odds; yes happiness is a choice, make up your mind that you will enjoy your holiday no matter what and you will. Understand that no one has a perfect life and no family is perfect, the decision to enjoy yours is entirely yours, choose happiness, choose a stress free holiday and enjoy.