It doesn’t matter whether you are a “bah humbug” Scrooge or a ready to put up the Christmas tree as soon as the trick-or-treaters have left kind of person, Christmas stress will touch your life. It is a well-known fact the holidays will produce their own jingle bell pressure and no one is immune. The holidays seem like the perfect time to remind ourselves of what is important. Remind ourselves to live in the moment. In the here and now.
- Financial Planning: One of the biggest holiday stressors is financial. The pressure we put on ourselves to spend more than we have is enormous. The self-imposed guilt we carry for not having the financial resources to buy gifts and lavish those we love is just as detrimental. Set a budget. Stick to it. This sounds simple yet Americans spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year on gifts that many of us forget about within 6 months. Setting a budget will help to alleviate financial holiday stress.
- Connect With Others: The holidays are a perfect time to connect with others. If we forget about that during the other days of the year, then connect now. Visit with neighbors and friends. Talk, laugh, share and delight in the moment’s together. They are fleeting. Connect without bells, bows or ribbons. Connect from the heart. When we do this, the rewards are endless and our own inner stress will be reduced.
- Set Expectations: Be happy with “good enough.” One does not always have to go bigger and better each year or work to out due the Jones’. Set personal and family expectations within a reasonable limit. Set your intention and then work from that point forward. This will help to eliminate unnecessary stress and prevent every little detail from going over the top. Be happy. Be content.
- Plan and Prioritize: Know what is important and decide how to proceed. If making lists help. Make several. If brainstorming holiday ideas with significant other help. Then plan away. The key is to organize and prioritize what needs to be done. If it becomes too much, then go back to the drawing board and reduce the list. Don’t allow things to become out of hand. Keep it simple. Reduce the stress.
- Set Boundaries: Set clear boundaries with others during the holiday season. It’s ok if you can’t get involved in every event, activity or gathering. Making sure that your boundaries are healthy and positive will yield less stress to your life during this busy time of the year. Learn to say no and feel good about it.
- Start New Traditions: If old traditions are not working well, then shake things up a little. Add some fun and sparkle into the holiday traditions. Think of ways to play new games or go potluck for the holiday dinners so all the responsibility is not on one person. Share and share alike.
- Don’t fight: Work to reduce the negative effects of family squabbles and long-held family grudges. This time of year can bring about additional unrest within families leading to anger, blame or arguing. Remember those boundaries. Accept others but do not to allow them to step over your healthy boundaries. The goal is to reduce your stress.
- Keep a sense of humor: The great author Herman Melville once stated: “a good laugh is a mighty good thing.” Laughing during stressful times, finding the funny side of the situation, within reason, can help reduce stress and anxiety. Laughter is a beautiful form of stress relief.
- Self-Care: Remember to take time out for yourself. Taking care of oneself this time of year is essential to stress maintenance. Eat well, try to get enough sleep, exercise, take time for some hobbies or quiet reflection. Recharge your battery. Keep stress away.
- Wait…we already had 9 tips per the title of this article. So why number 10? Number 10 is here for each of you to think about adding your own personal tip to reducing your holiday stress. The 9 tips are great to follow, but getting real and personal about reducing holiday stress, is by far the best gift you can give yourself this year.
Don’t forget in all the hustle and bustle that KeySolutions EAP is here to help with your holiday stress or other workplace issues. We are also able to help with a variety of mental health concerns. Now More Than Ever! Give us a call at 605-334-5850 or 1-888-450-7844. We wish all of you a peaceful and stress-free holiday season!
Article by Beth Hall, MSW, ACT, EAP Counselor, KeySolutions Employee Assistance Program