The holiday season is a time for celebration and coming together. The high expectations for these celebrations can also lead to stress if we don’t take care of ourselves or push beyond our means in an attempt to make the holidays special. Here are some tips to help keep your holidays joyful.
• Set realistic expectations for holiday gatherings or parties you’re hosting. It can feel like there is lots of pressure to get everyone the perfect gift, cook an outstanding meal, or have everyone in the family get along. Decide what activities, gifts, or decorations are the most important to you, and focus on making them special.
• Difficult conversations around politics or personal values can crop up at family dinners. These conversations can be healthy and help family members understand each other better, but can also escalate or become unproductive. Think ahead of time about how you might react or feel when discussing certain topics, and plan for ways to calm yourself down or remove yourself from a situation before it becomes heated. Remember that the person you are talking to is a friend or family member, and that in all likelihood you won’t change their opinion with one conversation. Avoid charged or attacking language and instead focus on sharing your views and being curious about the vales behind others’ opinions.
• The holidays are a time for gift giving, but there can be temptation or pressure to overspend on gifts or decorations. Before going shopping make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and budget how much money you would like to spend. Plan out trips to stores or the mall ahead of time so that you only visit stores where you can buy or search for gifts for people on your list that fit your holiday budget. The pressure to show you care through purchasing gifts can strain your finances. Remember that showing affection, spending time together, and making happy memories will be cherished much longer than any material gift.
• For more tips on managing stress and staying healthy during the holidays check out the American Psychological Associations Holiday Help Center: https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/holiday-stress
Author: Avery Ducey, MA MS