Is the Merry Missing from Your Holidays?

Here are some ways to reduce your stress and bring back the joy.

  • Identify what is meaningful. Make room for what you enjoy, spend time with the people you love, and seek out what is most spiritually meaningful to you during the Holidays. Discard old traditions that are meaningless, and avoid rote tasks that are unnecessary and performed only because they have persisted over time.


  • Take care of yourself. This means making time for sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. Improve time management skills and take into account how plans and decisions will affect you. For example, try to travel when there will be less traffic on the roads, shop when the malls are less crowded, and turn down unnecessary requests.


  • Express your thoughts and feelings.Communicate about finances and expenses, share both your hopes and expectations, and reach out for emotional support when needed. If you let others know how you feel and what you need, you may get what you want.


  • Plan and delegate. Don’t assume that you are solely responsible for organizing, shopping, and completing Holiday tasks. Get your family involved, ask for help, and delay obligations that can wait. Make plans ahead of time about how tasks can be accomplished and who needs to take responsibility for them.


  • Develop your own traditions. You are not obligated to assume others’ visions of the Holidays, whether it is your family of origin’s traditions or the media’s dictates. New traditions build a sense of control and meaning, and can allow you to distance yourself from others’ expectations.


  • Challenge unrealistic expectations. Perhaps the most important tool for reducing Holiday stress, challenging fantasies and assumptions about what constitutes the perfect Holiday and coming up with more realistic expectations can quell feelings of disappointment. In times of hardship or loss, the Holidays can exacerbate feelings of loneliness or sadness.

Most people don’t have a “Hallmark Holiday” and most families are not perfect. Pay attention to when unrealistic beliefs start to color your vision. Learning to accept and appreciate what you do have can be a lesson in finding joy in smaller packages.

In Step wishes you a stress-free holiday and is there for you if you would like more information on how to reduce your stress this holiday season.