The holidays can be the ‘perfect storm’ for stress. Why? The number one reason we feel so miserable during the holidays is because of sky-high expectations. We are also super-saturating our “Over’s” and “Under’s.” That is, we often over-spend, over-eat, and over-schedule yet are under-satisfied, under-self nurturing, and under-enjoying. It’s no wonder many dread the holidays.
Although they can present a challenge, a simple attitude adjustment and some helpful strategies may keep you humming “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”
Here are my TOP 5 TIPS for a happier holiday season:
- Change your expectations. Stress comes from conflicts in expectations. The more you demand of something and it doesn’t happen that way, the more upset you can get. If you expect everyone in your family to suddenly get along, you are buying into stress. Instead, step back and open up to many possibilities, not just one.
- Focus on Now. Forget about the unpredictable future or the over-and-done past. Live in the present moment. Whether it is baking, writing out cards, taking a walk, focus on what you are doing. Being mindful of the present moment can reduce stress and enhance peacefulness.
- Pitch Perfection. Enjoyment comes from simple camaraderie. It doesn’t come from all the little details you are agonizing over. Simplify and enjoy!
- Just say “No.” If you are miserable and feel like a victim, you’re not helping anyone. It’s okay to decline, but do so firmly and without rambling apologies or lengthy discussion. Just say you can’t do it, “No thanks,” or even buy yourself some time with, “I’ll think about it.”
- Be flexible. If confronted with conflicting schedules or the need to change the old family traditions, think outside the box. Brainstorm creative solutions. Alternate who hosts the get-togethers or pick names instead of buying presents for everyone. If you’ll be alone, plan ahead and even consider volunteering at a local shelter.
Kathryn Tristan is a Chesterfield resident and author of the new book "Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living", which will be available Dec. 4.