Holiday stress, what does that mean to you?
Holiday time may invokes visions of long lines at the airport, screaming kids on the beach or in theme parks, family get togethers that may not always end on a pleasant note, stressful holiday meal prep, burnt turkeys, or turkeys still frozen in the middle when it is time to eat.
The the term holiday may be used differently in the US vs UK vs Canada or wherever you may be from, but in any case stress can still a big issue and something which should be avoided if possible, as any type of holiday should be fun not stressful.
So for the purposes of this article I will address both situations. Often there are similar stressors which can both be managed in the same way.
So some tips will be general while other more specific to the situation.
Causes of Holiday Stress
All sorts of things can become stressful during the holiday season and we all react to them differently, but there are some which we probably all encounter and which many of you will be able to identify with.
Whether it be spending too much on presents and food or building up debt with that trip abroad you can’t really afford. Spending too much money can lead to feelings of guilt and worry and so instead of enjoying your purchases you end up feeling more stressed and anxious than before.
This is my biggest failing. I look forward to Christmas or my holiday and conjure up all sorts of different fantasies and dreams of what it will be like. Everything will be perfect, everyone will be happy and nothing will go wrong. Of course this is unrealistic and there will always be something that does not match my expectation and this causes disappointment and resentment.
Family and Relationships
The holidays are often the one time of year when you see long lost relatives or friends. This is great but it can also cause a lot of stress for everyone.
One main reason is trying to do too much and trying too hard to make everyone happy. This often just causes friction and tension because it simply isn’t possible to ensure everyone is happy all the time.
Your relatives and friends have their own agendas as to what they want to do and how they like things. They will also bring all their own emotional baggage with them to your home and this is bound to rise to the surface at some time during the holiday.
Taking on too much is also another holiday stress cause. Rushing around trying to do all the shopping, preparing the food and making sure that everyone is happy and have what they need all the time will both physically and mentally drain you. You will end up stressed and exhausted and definitely not having any fun at all.
So what can be done to reduce stress and make the holidays fun again?
Tips for Beating Holiday Stress
Don’t let holiday stress take over and bring you down. Here are some great tips to beat that holiday stress and keep your happy on!
Keep to a budget
Before you do anything at all and this includes both festive holidays and vacations, sit down and make a budget for yourself. Know how much you can afford to spend and how you are going to spend it. I know this may sound rather dull but going into any holiday season with a set budget will give you confidence and put you in control.
Most importantly keep to your budget, don’t be fooled into thinking that it doesn’t matter, it does and your body will tell you so when several months down the line you find yourself stressing over debts and unpaid bills.
The best thing you can do is to live and enjoy the moment you are in. Don’t compare your holiday to past idyllic childhood memories or unrealistic expectations which will surely only disappoint.
Share the responsibilities
Ask for help in preparing meals and arranging bookings etc. In fact you’ll be surprised just how happy people are to help out, it makes them feel useful and helps keep everyone happy.
By pacing yourself and allowing others to do their share you will have more time to enjoy the fun and talk to people that you may not have seen for some time.
Keep the past in the past
One of the biggest causes of holiday stress is when old arguments pop up once again.
There can’t be many families or even friends who at one time or another haven’t quarreled over something. The problem arises when you see them again after a long time and after a few too many party drinks these old arguments and resentments may come up again.
Make sure that any outstanding disagreements are cleared up before the holiday, make it clear that it is all in the past and all if forgiven and forgotten.
If arguments do arise then the best thing you can do is to walk away from the situation rather than fuel it. This takes some will power, especially if you are like me and become defensive very quickly.
Try not to spend it alone
Not everyone has family or friends to visit during the holidays and many people spend it on their own. This can be when depression can set in due mainly to being told all the time that you should be happy and having fun etc. etc. making holiday stress unavoidable.
If you do find yourself on your own at Christmas make a point of joining in with local activities in your area, carol recitals, visiting the sick or the homeless and helping with soup kitchens etc. there’s nothing quite so uplifting as helping others.
Find a holiday hobby
Hobbies can be a great distraction any time of year. Take some time out to enjoy your favorite holiday hobby. You may love to shop while others may find that stressful. Arts and crafts your thing? Make some awesome Christmas decorations or home made gifts. Do you love to bake? Do some holiday baking to destress. Do you love to cook? Be the chef. Hate it.. delegate.
Almost any hobby can be used as a quick stress reliever during the holidays. Make a point of taking the time for yourself to destress and not let the stress build up.