The holiday season is magical. It evokes memories of Santa Claus, baking treats with family, sipping hot cocoa, binge-watching holiday movies, and traveling through neighborhoods and city parks to see sparkling lights.
And, yet, the holidays are unbelievably stressful!
When I had my son three years ago, I knew that I wanted our Christmases to be special. I dreamed of reliving my childhood and creating new memories and traditions for our family to cherish for years to come.
The last couple of Christmases, however, were full of stress. I was so anxious and frenzied trying to make everything perfect that the entire holiday is a blur. This year, I am determined to do things differently!
Here are 5 tips for staying calm and emotionally healthy throughout the holidays.
1. Don’t plan too many outings or traditions.
As soon as Turkey Day is over, many people want to do and see #allthethings. Ice skating by the river! Caroling! Tree lightings and Christmas parades and train rides galore! Well, news flash: it’s impossible to do everything. Instead of setting yourself up for burnout and disappointment, make a list of your favorite traditions and leave an opening for spontaneity and downtime. In this case, less is more.
2. Remember “the reason for the season”
Whether you’re religious or not, it’s important to remember why you celebrate. If you’re Christian or Jewish, remind yourself what the Nativity or Menorah represents. Go to church and focus less on the commercialism. And if you’re not religious, just focus on spending time with your family and loved ones. When you’re full of good thoughts and surrounded by like-minded individuals, you’ll be less likely to become anxious and overwhelmed.
3. Do something for others
Just like it’s important to remember the “why,” it’s equally important to give of yourself during the season. Even if you cannot afford to give monetary donations to Toys for Tots, Angel Tree, etc., you can give your time and your support. The holidays are the perfect time to volunteer at a nursing home or serve the homeless at a soup kitchen. There is no joy like the joy of giving to somebody who needs it and will truly appreciate the gesture.
4. Expect some plans to go awry
Your outdoor extravaganza will be snowed-in, or your little one will get motion-sickness while riding through the light show. Things will happen. During the holidays, be open to your plans changing or just going wrongly. Instead of getting bent out of shape when unseasonably warm temperatures melt your outdoor ice-skating, laugh at the memories made when you slosh around in puddles and slide across the slush on your bum. It will be ok!
5. Realize that you can’t be everywhere at once
If you’re a people-pleaser, you likely want everybody to be together for the holidays: in-laws, siblings, grandparents, etc. And while it’s noble to sacrifice your time in order to bring your family together, you must remember that sometimes you can’t be everywhere at one time. If your family is spread out, don’t try to accommodate everybody at once. If you need to schedule two holiday dinners, nobody will go hungry!
If the stress of the holidays is already getting to you, just remember these five tips. The holiday season should be full of celebration, giving, relaxation, and making memories with the ones you love most. Stressful situations will arise—you’ll burn the batch of cookies for your cookie swap and your houseguests will inevitably outwear their welcome—but if you treat the hiccups with lighthearted acceptance, you will survive and make new memories, all while looking forward to the next season.
Tell Us: How do you deal with the stress of the holidays?
Catherine is part of the Contributing Writer Network at Thirty on Tap. To apply to become a Contributing Writer, please click here.
Featured image via Unsplash