This time of year is usually filled with excitement, love, and happiness. The perfect holiday cheer seems to be everywhere, from stores to TV to social media. But if we are being honest, the pressure of the perfect holiday can be overwhelming for many. There are a multitude of reasons why the holidays can be stressful. Maybe you’re having financial problems and cannot afford the presents or meal that you want to present to others. Maybe you are mourning the loss of a loved one who won’t be here this year. Maybe you have a job where you have to miss out on the holidays for work. Maybe it is seeing family members who make the holidays uncomfortable for you. No matter what the reason may be, the holidays can feel stressful and overwhelming. This is unfortunately the reality of the holiday season. Life is not like a Hallmark movie, there are real life stressors that impact us daily leading up to and through the holiday season. So, what can you do if you find yourself overwhelmed or dreading the holidays?
- Have realistic expectations about the holidays: often there is that pressure to have the perfect holiday. Be mindful and remember that things are often not going to go as planned. Go with the flow, acknowledging any emotions that come with change, and enjoy the holiday the best that you can.
- Set boundaries around the holidays: setting boundaries is never easy, but especially around the holidays. But there is nothing worse than having to suffer through an uncomfortable situation just because it’s the holidays. Set boundaries to not talk about certain topics, not stay as long as others want, go early or later to functions and set limits on gift giving to avoid financial burden. You will thank yourself later.
- Consider doing something totally different: there are no right or wrong ways to celebrate the holidays. Don’t want to make a huge dinner? Order a premade dinner instead. Don’t want to buy a ton of presents? Do a secret Santa or white elephant gift exchange. Don’t want to see certain family members? Stay home and do something else instead. Do what is best for you.
- Talk to someone about how you’re feeling: you’re not alone about feeling stressed or overwhelmed during the holidays. Talking about it with trusted friends, family or a therapist can help. They may also provide encouragement to help you get through this difficult season.
There is no perfect holiday. The reality is that although they can be exciting and fun, they can still cause unnecessary stress that can take away your holiday spirit. So, this year, be kind to yourself this holiday season. Do what you need to do to keep yourself, safe and well during the holiday season. Happy Holidays from Spectrum Health and Human Services.