Avoiding Holiday Stress
For many people, the advent of autumn heralds the start of a stressful holiday season. From November to January, we feel pressured to be wonderful hosts, entertain scores of loved ones, and remain calm amid chaos. Yet much of the tension we feel during the holidays is a direct result of our own expectations. In our efforts to please others and to craft the ultimate celebration, we overextend ourselves and miss out on the spirit of the season. This year, consider transforming your approach to your celebrations. Instead of striving for perfection, endeavor to enjoy the treats that only come once a year, the company of family and friends, and the little unexpected occurrences that make each holiday unique. Before you begin your whirlwind of seasonal preparations, ask yourself what aspects of each holiday are most important to you and what holiday-related goals you hope to achieve this year.
As the holiday season draws nearer, resolving to give up your dreams of perfection can help you avoid anxiety. If you strive to have a good holiday, you can take charge of arrangements without feeling that your loved ones’ happiness is resting on your shoulders. Try to remember that you are unique, which means that your holiday experience need not conform to that of your parents, your neighbors, or the simulated families you see in the media. Understand that you cannot please everyone. After all, what the people you care about likely want most during the holiday season is your time and attention. Allow yourself to decline invitations without guilt and to serve store-bought foods rather than homemade dishes if it means you get more time to relax in the company of friends and family.
If stress strikes, remember that holidays encompass but a few days out of each year. Enjoying those few days is often a matter of identifying your motives and shifting gears if necessary. Ask yourself whether your quest for perfection is a matter of impressing others or gathering the people you care about around you in celebration. A year from now, you’ll have only a handful of vivid memories to look back on. If you take a realistic and heartfelt view of the holidays, you’ll be sure to remember them fondly.