Depending on what holiday you celebrate, the “big day” may be behind you or looming in front of you. Not to mention New Year’s Eve and the related stress.
Here are a few tips you can still implement to keep the remaining holiday stress at bay:
- Be realistic: I don’t know where I first heard it, but the saying “success is well-managed expectations” is never more true than around the holidays. Sometimes we expect far too much of ourselves and others. Take a long, hard look at your own expectations and the expectations others may have of you. Which are “must do?” Which are “I don’t want to do?” Give yourself ample time for the “must do” items and cancel the “I don’t want to” things. You will feel less stress immediately.
- Acknowledge your feelings: The holidays bring up many happy and sad emotions. If you are unhappy, it’s okay to express sadness. Suppressing emotions only empowers them. This brings me to…
- Find support: Most of us have support structures we “don’t want to bother.” Trust me; you probably aren’t bothering them; you are allowing them to give you the gift of love and support. What would you want them to do if the tables were turned?
- Be patient with others: We will likely spend time with people with different beliefs and values. Diversity is what makes our lives so rich. Be patient, be kind, and embrace others for who they are, especially if they don’t think, act, and behave as you’d like them to (except for those who inflict physical and/or mental harm).
- Plan. Plan. And plan some more. Even if we laid out our perfect holiday schedule weeks ago, things change, and tasks almost always take longer than we think. Set aside ample time for activities that support what’s important to you. Trust me; the cookies will take longer to prepare than the recipe says. The wrapping will take longer than expected. Travel times may be increased. And you may end up with some unexpected drop-in guests. Give yourself a buffer of time, and you will experience less stress.
- Most importantly, learn to say “no” so you can take care of yourself. The answer does not need to be “yes.” It’s okay to say “no” if the request doesn’t support what’s important to you. The time you may spend on an extra work project may be better spent at the gym.
Remember the instruction to “put your oxygen mask on first?” Self-care is the same thing. You will take the best care of others if you take care of yourself first.
Cindy Jobs, PCAC, ACC
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