When the holidays descend upon us, we find ourselves simultaneously excited and bracing for the stress that is rushing toward us. As children, we only had to look forward to all the magic and festivities that awaited. As adults, we have become the facilitators of all of those festivities, working too hard to get them right.
Eventually, things will catch up to us and can leave us feeling overly stressed and unhappy. Staying focused on the things that you love about the holidays, and practicing some stress management skills can get you back on track to making memories instead of gray hair, and if you have struggled with substance abuse in the past, can help keep you from a relapse.
Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
It is easy to overcommit during the holidays with inherited traditions, family dinners, extravagant holiday parties, and gift-giving to attend to. We want to be generous and do everything we can to make it the best time of the year, but sometimes you have to take a look at all the things on your plate and start cutting back.
Say no to some events and get-togethers. Pick the ones you really want or need to attend and politely decline the rest. The time, energy, and money you’ll save will make it worthwhile to do less running around town.
Gift-giving is a major financial stressor, since the gift list always seems to grow each year. An idea to alleviate the amount of gifts you need to buy is choosing a single family gift instead of a bunch of separate ones, like a family game or a gift card to a restaurant. Another idea is to go in on a gift with other family members, such as a family portrait or an outing.
Delegate the big family dinner or celebration and extra house guests to another family member’s house this time. You may be able to find more time to relax and enjoy more if you are not orchestrating all the events. If you do elect to host, consider hiring someone to do the cleaning ahead of time. This can relieve you of a huge burden in preparing for the event. You might even recruit the cleaner(s) to give you some relief after the event is over as well.
Be realistic about what you can take on and try to plan ahead to keep things from getting piled up. Don’t worry about everything being perfect, and remember that it is okay to not do every single thing you had planned.
If you have children, it is especially beneficial to take care of yourself and keep stress at bay since it your stress can become their stress. Keep the holiday mood light whenever possible with music, stories, playing outside in the snow, or family movie time. Keeping yourself relaxed will help kids relax, and all of you will have a better holiday.
Things You Can Do to Keep Spirits Up
You can literally walk away from your responsibilities for at least a few minutes each day. Walking or exercising decreases anxiety, improves sleep, and helps you feel more energized. Try to maintain even short exercise routines during the holidays to keep you sane.
Keep financial worries in check by sticking to a budget and knowing you don’t have to impress everyone. It’s more important to spend time with people than to spend money on them.
Keep venting to a minimum. It can make negative emotions worse and heighten anxiety. Some things just can’t be changed. Focus on the positive aspects of situations or conflicts to limit frustration and enable you to move on.
Take breaks whenever you need them. Sometimes you need a breather from the hustle of family, shopping, and crowds. Lose your cell phone for a day or even a few hours. A break from constant texts, notifications, and calls, will have a major calming effect on your mind since all the necessary responses can be exhausting.
Relaxation techniques, yoga, music, and practicing a positive attitude can all increase your enjoyment of the holidays. Don’t forget to spend time with your favorite people and have fun. Laughing really does make you happy, so remember to put yourself first and you’ll enjoy the holidays!
Constance Ray started http://recoverywell.org with the goal of becoming safe place for people to share how addiction has affected them, whether they are combating it themselves or watching someone they care about work to overcome it. Their goal is to share stories of hope from survivors who know that the fight against addiction is one worth having, because no matter how it affects you, life can get better.