While most people associate the holidays with peace and joy, many experience another emotion altogether: stress. Our behavioral health expert gives us five helpful tips to avoid holiday stress and savor this special season.
By Kristen Davis-Coelho, PhD
Administrator of Renown Behavioral Health and Addiction Institute
The added responsibilities and obligations surrounding the winter holidays can be overwhelming. Why does this time of year add so much extra pressure?
Much of our holiday stress comes from our expectations: of ourselves, our family and the holiday itself. The greater the difference between our expectations and reality, the higher the risk for disappointment, guilt and frustration.
Take These 5 Steps to Avoid Holiday Stress
1. Be realistic with yourself. Set reasonable goals. If you never get your shopping done before Christmas Eve, expecting yourself to complete it by Thanksgiving isn’t realistic; a goal of December 21 might be a better one.
2. Be realistic about others. People don’t change who they are just because it’s a holiday. If a relative or loved one always hovers and offers unsolicited advice, plan ahead to give them tasks so they can contribute in a helpful way.
3. Be realistic about the day. Despite the best-laid plans, unexpected things can occur: the oven breaks, the highway is closed, Uncle Joe is in an especially grumpy mood. Stay focused on the positives and on the things you do have control over.
4. Prioritize according to your values. Ask yourself: What does this time of year mean to me? What aspects do I value most? After it’s over, what memories will I treasure? Spend the majority of your time and effort on the aspects that are most connected to your values.
5. Take care of yourself. Delegate tasks, be careful not to overindulge, get enough sleep and set aside a little time for relaxation.