It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.
WHY ARE THE HOLIDAYS SO STRESSFUL??
Some people look forward to the holidays with great expectations for family, friends, and time to enjoy the season. The holidays offer great food, much needed time away from work, and the opportunity to reconnect with loved-ones.
While the holidays can be a joyous time, for many, this time of year is stressful and causes a lot of anxiety. Financial problems, family dynamics, not to mention this season of Covid 19 along with many other life worries only add to the stress that the holidays can bring.
Aside from a global pandemic, one of the most common causes of holiday stress is the expectation placed on families. If you’re overextended emotionally and/or financially, the added burden to provide big meals, “perfect” gifts, and travel expenses feels like a heavy weight.
Families begin to feel this stress just about the time they are putting away the Halloween decorations.
Despite the Hallmark channel’s insistence that families all love one another and that being together is all that matters, many families are fractured, and unable or unwilling to live in harmony.
The key to having a stress-less holiday is all about preparation and setting boundaries.
Sticking to a plan that allows for the fun parts of the season without setting the family up for failure is the best way to ensure that everyone has the best experience possible.
When children are small, parents set boundaries that are clear expectations for their conduct. If they step outside of the boundaries, they are redirected back to what is acceptable.
Parents use logic and love to explain why the rules exist and why consequences to their actions are important in the grand scheme of life.
The benefit of boundaries is knowing what is expected and understanding that there are limits. Children raised with clear, consistent and appropriate boundaries tend to be better at self-regulating, delayed gratification and adapting to life as mature adults.
Setting boundaries about the holidays has similar benefits.
- preparing a budget and holding to it
- deciding well before hand whom to share the holidays with and
- negotiating what activities to participate in
…will help you create a plan of action that you can look forward to.
The key to making meaningful boundaries is to do it well ahead of time.
Discuss the expectations, finances and opportunities available and make clear decisions about how your time and resources will be spent well before the decorations start to go up.
Once those decisions are made, stick to the plan.
HOW YOU CAN PREPARE FOR HOLIDAY STRESS
As you start your holiday preparations and schedules, realize that stress will always be a part of the Holiday season.
It’s directly tied to expectations over and above every day living.
Just because the holidays are here though, doesn’t mean there is an obligation to overextend yourself.
If you have outstanding chores, bills, or unfinished projects, do everything you can to get them managed before the holidays set in.
- Clean your home or have a service come in and get things on track
- Clear out your closets and clutter
- Make a donation to the thrift store
- Clean your garage and your gutters
- Head to the dump
- Refill prescriptions
- Pre-write your holiday newsletter
- Clear out space for the holiday decorations to come down from the attic and make space for what you need
- Start picking up baking items or other staples
Also, touch base with friends and family now. This is especially important this year. Share that you expect times to get so busy that you want to reach out now so you won’t feel pressured later and they won’t feel neglected.
Doing these types of tasks well ahead of time will help you stay organized and not feel so rushed to complete your “to do” list.
TIPS TO REDUCE YOUR HOLIDAY STRESS THIS SEASON
Make certain that self-care is a part of the whole family’s lifestyle. Adequate sleep, exercise and down time are important in a season that’s all about hustle.
Don’t feel obligated to say yes to every invitation to give, attend a party or otherwise be involved. It’s perfectly acceptable to say no to the things that cause more stress than joy.
Stay in the moment. Remember the reason for your season. Whatever your personal reasons are for celebrating the holidays, remember to be present and enjoy every moment that you can…This year will never come again.
Give. The surest way to reduce stress is to freely and willingly give of yourself, your time or your resources for the benefit of others. This is different than giving out of obligation which often leads to resentment.
No matter your finances, your family dynamics or your time constraints, you can give in a meaningful way towards something that is bigger than you and will set your soul at ease.
For more information on how to handle holiday stress, check out the Holiday Stress Resource Center
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