The holiday season can be the best time and the worst time of the year at the same time. The stress levels can be unreal for some people. Too much stress will bury the good parts of the season and leave you with that bah humbug feeling. So, how do you take the edge off?
You have to know how to manage your holiday stress! Here’s what we do each year to keep our sanity during the holiday season.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
The first step to dealing with stress is to acknowledge it’s there. Your stress might have nothing to do with the holiday season. For instance, you might feel a little depressed from the lack of sunlight, or you could be grieving because a loved one passed around this time.
These feelings are normal. You shouldn’t bury them because it’s the holidays. Strong feelings like these do not care about the holiday schedule! Take some time to express these in a healthy way. Yes, it’s okay to have a good cry on the holidays!
If your stress becomes too overwhelming, even with the tips below, we encourage seeking professional help if you need it. Your holiday stress may be rooted in something deeper, especially if your feelings are persistent or impede a normal routine.
Celebrate the Holidays Your Way
The society we live in pushes an ideal version of the holidays on us and expects us to push that way each year to meet an expectation. Take Thanksgiving. To do this holiday “right”, we’re expected to:
- Have as much family over as possible
- Make a gigantic meal with many things we only cook once a year
- Decorate the house with fall colors
- Everyone must bask in the warmth of being together with family, and certainly no fighting
- We must all feel thankful for the past year
- Oh, and don’t forget the family traditions, like watching football or the Macy’s parade!
Just reading this list is enough to make your heart beat faster, and we don’t have to worry about this holiday for another year! Take a deep breath and relax. The first secret to managing holiday stress is choosing how you’ll celebrate.
Set your own way of doing the holiday “right” and stick to it. Commercials and society and perhaps even our family will try to impose their way of doing things, but only you know what you need for a holiday to feel properly celebrated.
The only real requirement for Thanksgiving is to take some time to feel thankful for the things that have happened the previous year. Everything else is optional, really! Choose the things you truly want to do and drop the rest.
Learn to Drop Other’s Expectations
Unfortunately, when we try to do things our own way we could receive pushback. Christmas is notorious for this. If we don’t do this and decorate like that and buy enough Christmas presents to get those reactions from family and friends, then Christmas is “ruined” and we’re supposed to feel awful.
Did we choose to take on those Christmas ideals, or were they pushed onto us? When we carry other people’s expectations like this, it’s literal emotional baggage. You have to learn to drop other people’s expectations and realize that their reactions are their responsibility, not yours.
You’re not a “Scrooge” if your holiday celebrations are smaller than others, nor does it make you seem poor. It’s your life and you get to decide how you want your family to celebrate it. Having more presents or more decorations doesn’t make your holiday automatically better.
Children Are a Special Case
For those of us with kids, holiday stress hits especially hard. Kids love getting things and a lot of children’s programming pushes the gift-giving aspect of the holiday. But think back to your own childhood. Did you really care how many presents you got as long as you got something?
It’s unlikely that you pored over your gifts like an accountant when you were little. You weren’t comparing the number and value of each gift from past Christmas celebrations and deciding how good your Christmas was on that. Neither are your children.
This may sound heretical, but there’s no expectation that your children even have to be happy on the holiday! There’s so many things that can shift a child’s mood in the moment that it’s unreasonable to expect perfect holiday joy (whatever that means) every year from them. Children have to deal with their feelings and expectations, too.
Another secret to managing the expectations of children during the holidays is to talk with them about what they want to do. You might have to compromise a bit on your ideal holiday celebration, but you might also find that their idea of a delightful holiday is far less stressful than yours.
Also, by asking them, you could create some teachable moments about giving gifts and managing expectations!
When Holiday Stress Arises
The only way to completely avoid holiday stress is to not celebrate at all. If you don’t celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, there’s no stress, right? But you’re probably celebrating something, so you should learn how to handle the stress as it comes.
Start preparing well in advance so you're not rushed, and get your family to help you so you’re not doing it all on your own. This is a great way to make holiday memories with your kids and come together as a family to decide how you want to celebrate.
Take some time for some self-care during the holiday. The joy we get from the holidays shouldn't be the release of stress that comes when it’s all over! Do some things you truly enjoy that put you into the holiday spirit, whatever you’re celebrating.
For those emergency holiday stress situations, keep a bottle of our stress-relieving rollers handy to calm your body down. A little dab of these on your pulse points in the bathroom can break down tension before it gets too crazy. We recommend either:
These, along with our pure CBD products, are our go-to when emergency stress pops up. Holidays are a prime time for that, so keep a bottle tucked in your purse so you can control it before it gets out of hand!
Don’t forget your other healthy habits during the season. Be sure you’re getting enough sleep and proper meals. Avoid too much snacking as well. Maybe the most important habit for the holidays is to limit your media consumption. Once you’ve bought your holiday stuff, shut it off! You’re free!
We hope these suggestions will help you deal with the stress you’ve been feeling over the holiday season and help make next year’s holidays a more enjoyable and relaxing time. Peace and joy are possible!