Thriving During the Holidays: Part 1
Posted: December 5, 2022
As December begins, you’ve likely navigated one holiday already: Thanksgiving (that is, if you choose to celebrate). You may think holidays are totally stress free - and that’s great! Or, like 69% of Americans, you may feel totally stressed out during the holiday times. Many folx are so stressed out by holidays that they’d rather just skip Christmas or other winter holidays altogether - with 45% of Americans saying they’d prefer to ignore Christmas entirely due to the stress it brings. Why are the holidays so stressful? Scheduling may be the biggest issue. According to one survey by Greenberg Quilan Rosner Research, 30% of Americans often worry about lack of time during the holidays while 67% sometimes worry about the same thing. It’s easy to see how someone’s schedule can get out of hand when you imagine cramming in gift-buying and wrapping, family meals plus the preparation, holiday traditions such as religious festivities, and family get-togethers - all on top of your normal responsibilities! Three other commonly-reported holiday issues are financial strain (with 62% sometimes worried about this), commercialism (with 53% worried about this), and the pressure of purchasing presents (with 47% worried about this). Additionally, family gatherings stress out 44% of people sometimes and 14% of people often. Wondering how you can combat some of these top-stressors to survive the holidays? Check out our favorite tips from Therapy Beyond Healing! Combating Scheduling Concerns Our schedules can be stressful, and especially so during busy times of the year - like the holidays! Try some of these tips to keep your schedule in line:
- Make time for consistency: having our daily lives completely thrown off course can cause some anxiety. Keep your stress level low by trying to incorporate some consistent activities in your day. For example, if you usually eat breakfast at 9am, try to continue to do so. If you meditate 10 minutes before bedtime, keep that up, too.
- Plan far ahead: it may seem silly to plot out when you’ll have family dinner a month in advance, but it may help keep your stress down! Try to book plane tickets or other travel plans even further in advance - to both keep costs down and save you some planning later on.
- Be willing to say no: family members may make us feel like we’re running in six different directions at one time. If you need to say no to a plan or request, feel empowered to do so.
- Have all family members commit to a budget: if you’re worried about money, it’s likely your family and friends are, too. Have a meeting and agree on a budget - for example, say each person in your family will get a gift valued at $25 or under.
- Buy gifts for one person versus everybody: gift giving can be especially stressful in a big family or large group of friends. Instead of buying something for everyone, have the whole group pull names from a hat. That way, everyone will only have to purchase presents for one person instead of multiple, and everyone is still getting gifts.
- Spread out your spending: while you may have missed the deadline this year, start your holiday shopping 1 to 3 months prior to the holiday. This way, you’ll chip away at spending a little at a time, instead of hoping you have an extra large chunk of money in the bank in December.
- Set boundaries: boundaries are ways we protect our time, energy, and body. A boundary at the holidays may look like staying in a hotel room instead of your parent’s house so you have alone time at night. It also may look like asking to change the conversation if it’s getting heated, or letting someone know you feel uncomfortable.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate: we get it - communication can be hard, especially with family members who need to work on communication skills themselves. However, keep in mind that your family members likely aren’t mind-readers - they’ll need to know how you’re feeling, when you’re feeling it.
- Remember - not going home is an option: sometimes, holidays make us feel obligated to return to toxic family environments that are ultimately not good for our mental health. While it may feel hard, remember you always have the option to say no and stay home (or say no to hosting, if your family comes to you). It’s your choice to make.