Thanksgiving is the beginning of the holiday season which may cue stress and negative feelings instead of joy and excitement. Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy friends and family and be thankful for the blessings and provisions we have received. Christmas is a season to celebrate giving and providing blessings to others. There are many reasons that the holiday blues set in. Maybe you’ve lost a family member or friend and the holidays aren’t the same without them. Maybe your budget is tight this year and it’s hard to see the blessings you have and gift giving may be challenging. Maybe there are health concerns or the stress with planning and prepping for family. Maybe seeing the in laws or the estranged aunt or uncle makes you cringe. Whatever the reason you may be stressed or down during the holiday season, there are ways to reduce stress and enjoy the holiday as it was intended.
Budget! If money is an issue, stick to a budget your family agrees on. Plan out your gifts, food, parties, etc. around this budget and keep each other accountable within your family. Don’t be afraid to say, “I can’t afford as many gifts as last year” or “We are planning on just giving the kids in the family gifts.” Word it in a way you are comfortable and don’t be ashamed to do it. If you want your finances kept to yourself, you don’t owe an explanation for your choices. Your life, your money, your choice! Don’t get caught up in obligation.
Forget Flawlessness & Perfection. The holiday season is all about blessing, thankfulness, giving, and family (even if they aren’t blood!). Enjoy the blessing of friends and family, food, and traditions without the constant worry of house work, cleaning dishes (we know this could last all day!) or satisfying every person in the room. Declare who you are to yourself before the festivities begin. Say a prayer, read scripture, meditate, remind yourself of your value, take deep breaths, anything to clear your head of the hustle and bustle and focus on who you are and not who others need you to be. This will give you the freedom to enjoy the holiday instead of worry about pleasing others or perfecting everything!
Don’t focus on the micro-decisions. This color or that, shiny paper or matte, paper plates or real plates, this pie or that… The little decisions could make a list a thousand miles long! Don’t get caught up in the minor details and when you can allow others to make those decisions! If your spouse is good at making decisions let him or her make those decisions you get caught up on. After all, most will pay attention to the thought rather than if you chose green plates or orange plates. No need to reinvent the wheel. Allow traditions to flourish and yes, pot lucks are amazing during the holidays! Avoid second guessing or beating yourself up if you regret a decision. Set it in your heart and let it go once you decide!
Slow Down! Don’t forget the holidays are not all about perfectly prepared food or a spotless house. It’s about the memories and the interactions and experience with others! Give your child that hug they asked for, kiss your spouse, and dance while cleaning or cooking! Make the whole experience from planning to preparation and execution a family adventure. Take time to wish others a happy Thanksgiving and invite that single friend or lonely neighbor over to enjoy the holidays in a home filled with love!
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or frustrated.. LISTEN to a favorite song or belt it out, which can release “feel-good” chemicals and take your body out of fight or flight. SMELL a calming scent like lavender essential oil or maybe the smell of grandma’s pumpkin pie. This can elicit memories and feelings of happiness and bring you out of the chaos. LOOK for a distraction in your physical world. If you are struggling with anxiety try a grounding technique: name out loud 5 colors you see, 4 shapes you see, 3 sounds you hear, 2 smells you smell, and 1 thing you feel. FEEL your areas of tension and focus on relaxing them or try a repetitive motion like rubbing your arm, leg, or neck to induce relaxation.
Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, & Happy New Year!