Want to Avoid Holiday Stress?

December 9, 2015

Holiday stress can take many forms. In a survey conducted by Mental Health America, money concerns and chaotic schedules are two of the top sources of holiday stress. Women reported feeling slightly more stressed than men, and parents in general feel more stressed than most groups.

This year, take the pressure off. Here are some tips to help you relax this holiday season.
1. Put Stress in its Place: It's Not About the Holidays
"Stress and distress are often related to worrying about the future or fretting about the past," says David Levingston, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist.  To find peace and joy in any season, he advises focusing on the present moment.

2. Create the Holiday You Want
"When the holidays come around, there may be pressures pulling you in all directions off your center," Levingston says. He suggests you make clear decisions about how you want to spend your time and resources. Do it early, before the decorations go up around town. Consider what is most important to you.

3. Beware of Shopping Pitfalls
Shopping -- especially if you're worried about money or getting elbowed in the stores -- can drain the fun out of the holiday season. People who focus on gifts generally feel less holiday cheer than those who spend more time with close friends and family.  Also, despite your best efforts, your gifts may not express your love as well as you hope. Perhaps lunch out together would be appreciated more than a scarf.

4. Get Creative in Your Gift Giving
Many families have had to cut back on holiday gifts. If this includes you, have a family meeting and get creative. "Some families draw names and each person buys for one person. Some families do handmade gifts or coupons," Dubin says. A coupon might be good for a massage or night off from doing the dishes, for instance. You don't have to go into debt to make the holidays special.

5. Play Games
Games can keep things fun and light at family gatherings. "Games are a good way to connect with each other and engage your mind, body, and imagination," says Levingston.

6. Postpone Family Feuds
There is a reason many people equate holidays with family strife. "When you have a group of people in a small area and everyone expecting to have a great time, it is almost a set up for arguments," Dubin says.. With so much emotion and expectation, the holidays are not the best time to work things out. If old family baggage surfaces, plan to talk after the festivities wind down..

7. Have Compassion for Yourself and Others
Even if you shop less and focus on family time, stressed-out friends, in-laws, and co-workers may still come calling. How can you be a good friend and keep your calm?

Try not to take things personally. During the holidays in particular most people are trying to get their needs met. Maybe it's their need for love or simply for validation.  So try not to think about how people "should be." Accept them as they are, and release the tension from your body.

Enjoy a completely stress-free afternoon by attending Lake Prince Woods Holiday Cottage and Villa Open House on Friday, Dec. 18 at 2:00 p.m.  Tour several of our homes and enjoy delicious holiday refreshments.  Please contact Kaye Albin, 757-923-5504, [email protected], or Trish Alt, 757-923-5559, [email protected] if you would like to attend.