We continue our special series on “10 Ways to Overcome Holiday Stress” by Aubrey Freitas, Registered Behavioral Therapist. If you missed any previous blogs, you can find them on our website.
7. Focus on Joy, Love, and Peace
Bijou advises that holiday stress often happens when people " get swept up in 'shoulds' and expectations." These elements of the holiday season can cause people to lose sight of the real meaning of the holidays and lead them to neglect the actual activities that bring them joy during this time of year. To overcome stress, she advises, people should remember the goal of the season and "feel and exchange joy, love, and peace," which are elements that everyone can bring into their holiday season.
Bijou states that you can create peace simply by being fully present when you are spending time with loved ones. You can show love by accepting others and embracing the joy of giving. You can experience joy by leading with your heart and not abandoning what you know is best for the well-being of you and your family.
With this in mind, she recommends, "Check within before saying 'yes' to hosting that party, accepting an invitation, or buying those too-expensive gifts." Instead, focus on the things that really matter.
8. Lend a Helping Hand
Volunteering takes time, but it can still be a way to help you beat holiday stress. Working with people who are less fortunate than you can provide you with an important perspective on what is really important.
Masini recommends volunteering with your significant other or family to get into the real spirit of the holidays. She states, "Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah or something else, there are many people who are not fortunate enough to have a place to go, a tree to decorate, or a gift to open on Christmas day." Many people volunteer with loved ones during the holiday season, especially on the days of the holidays themselves. This can leave volunteer organizations flooded with volunteers on these days, but lacking support throughout the rest of the year.
For this reason, you might find it helpful to use the holiday season to plan a day to volunteer with your family, instead of heading to a local organization on the holiday. Some ways to do this are:
1. Brainstorm organizations you want to volunteer with or look up local places to volunteer in your community.
2. Have your loved ones get together during the holidays and pick a random date in the future to volunteer together.
3. When the day rolls around, come together with your family to have a bigger impact, and help out a volunteer organization that may desperately need a helping hand after the holidays.
9. Manage Your Emotions Constructively
The holidays can be a deeply emotional time for a variety of reasons. Bijou recommends that people allow themselves to feel their emotions and try not to bury emotions that could eventually simmer over or prevent them from enjoying their favorite aspects of the holidays.
"Handle your emotions physically and constructively," she points out. For example, if you are sad that this is the first year that a loved one will not be in attendance, allow yourself to cry. Or, if you know you'll feel angry at the antics of some family members, step away from the party and take a moment for yourself to manage your emotions in a safe, private place. "Attending to your emotions will dissipate the emotional energy and allow you to be more present," says Bijou.
Follow our blog this month for more insights to help plan a less stressful holiday season.