The holidays are a wonderful time of year. They are a time for food, festivity, and family. But sometimes even the best holidays can become stressful and anxious times. Heck sometimes it can be a downright nightmare. Shopping, family, travel, and more can be stressful and put us out of spirits. So how do we make the most of the holidays and avoid the holiday blues? Here are 4 simple steps.
- Say no. You don’t have to go to every event. You don’t have to have the best decorated house ever seen. You don’t have to cook a 7 course meal. If you love those things then by all means do them. But for most of us, we try to do too much. Trying to take every detail of the holidays above and beyond is a great way to get exhausted and cranky; two things a holiday should never be. Recognize what you can and will enjoy, and say no to the rest.
- Communicate your expectations ahead of time. This is one that I am terrible at. It is an annual challenge for me. Whatever you are doing, you have to be aware of your expectations and communicate them. That can mean informing your spouse or kids, your extended family, and sometimes just sitting down and making sure that you yourself know what you hope for from the holidays. If family caroling on Christmas Eve is important, say so. Your brother Fred might think that Christmas Eve is the time to sit around the fire and tell stories from the past year. There are many ways to handle conflicting desires surrounding holiday plans, but generally they should be hashed out well before the day of. Emotions are high around the holidays and it can turn ugly fast when communication breaks down or doesn’t happen.
- Hand in hand with communicating your expectations is listening. This is especially key within your own family and if you are hosting. First thing to remember is that listening doesn’t mean agreeing. You can listen and say no or come to a different conclusion. You should know the hopes and expectations of those you are spending time with. This will enable you to see the whole picture and create a holiday experience that everyone can enjoy. If you don’t even know what the goal is, you can hardly get there. Having said that, you can’t please everyone. Someone will inevitably not get their way about something, and that’s ok. Listen well and be empathetic, but understand that you can’t do everything. Maybe something gets planned out for the next year.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. And darn near everything is small stuff. Or can be if you choose to make it small. The holidays are highly emotional and this can easily lead to overreaction. Try to keep perspective and look at the big picture. Take delayed travel for instance. “Man it was a nightmare getting uncle Bill here. His flight was delayed and then the car broke down and we didn’t get home until after midnight on Christmas Eve and I was tired and it was horrible.” That situation could just as well be, “Man we were so blessed to get uncle Bill here. Nothing went right but we made it and got to celebrate Christmas together.” We have the power to create our experiences. Don’t let the circumstances take that from you.
As you prepare for the holiday keep these tips in mind, and I wish you the best holiday season you’ve ever had!