by Megan Stubbs
Holiday season is upon us and with the heavy dose of extended family, social gatherings, events and meal planning, it’s no wonder that many of us can start to feel the rumblings of an unquiet mind. While the holidays are supposed to evoke a feeling of warm festive joy, many people find that the uninvited guest of stress has entered into their lives, too. According to a poll done by the American Psychological Association in regard to holiday stress, 8 out of 10 people anticipated experiencing it. When everything in your life isn’t sugarplums and fairies, consider these tips to help soothe your mind.
Check Your Expectations
Take a step back and reevaluate what is currently feasible in your life. Are you really willing to plan the entire family dinner for 20 people without help? Can you afford to buy that super amazing I-have-to-have-it toy with the expensive price tag? Do you think now is a good time to be good and stop eating sweets? Thanksgiving was last month; you don’t get any awards for having an over-packed plate. Really look at what is manageable for you. If you’re planning that dinner and feeling overwhelmed, ask for help and delegate. If that toy isn’t in the budget, find something that is thoughtful and useful instead. And let’s be honest, giving up sweets around the holidays is terrible timing. Plus, don’t get me started about the idea that being good has become synonymous with self-denial.
Go Towards the Light
Are you dreading the holiday meal with that family member who revels at the chance to push your buttons? Take steps to free your mind from negativity and focus on the good. Whatever your stressor may be, find ways to mitigate the negativity with positives. Try to avoid this person, if you can, by staying in a group with other family members. Maybe it’s a holiday party at work and you can’t stand the person from accounting. Just focus on the joy of being with family and friends. Do whatever it takes to move yourself through the space with as much love and light as you can.
Lean on the Home Team
When it all seems like it is becoming too much and you are one step away from canceling Christmas, reach out to your tribe or your partner. Open up to them and express your thoughts, feelings and insecurities. No matter how small, menial or silly they seem, you are not alone in this. While they may not have all of the answers or an immediate solution to your concerns, leaning on their strength and love can help you find your way out of the stress because at the end of the day, or rather the holidays, they are the ones who will be there for you.
Learning from Failure
Failure is part of life and isn’t something that should be shunned away. Whether it was something like forgetting to pick up your child from the ice skating party or if a family event went nuclear, look at what you can take away from each experience. These bumps in the road are good indicators that a change needs to be made. Maybe you need to set reminders in your phone for important events. Maybe you need to find time to work out some familial issues. Whatever work needs to be done is all part of your process in discovering your own way through life.
…With time and kindness. Time for yourself is an excellent way to cope with holiday stress. While it may seem that you have a jam packed schedule and no room for some self-care, I implore you to re-evaluate your expectations and make time for yourself. Even if it is 20 minutes on a random Wednesday, do it. You need to invest in yourself so you can be prepared to deal with all of the happenings around you. There are no trophies for the person who has burned themselves out at both ends. An Instagram worthy table spread and hip trendy decorations are worthless if your dog finds you hiding in the dark laundry room, crying while chugging down a bottle of Chardonnay. Remember to be kind to yourself; you deserve that gift all year long.
I challenge you to be mindful of the things that matter this holiday season: The warmth of family, the quiet peace you find with your partner, the joy in friendship, the festive feelings that are in the air, and the glow on faces that maybe, just maybe, make the world a little brighter. All of these things are priceless and the ultimate gift that the holiday season bestows upon us. Warmest wishes and Happy Holidays!